Saturday, March 5, 2011

Beethoven for spring break

You've all been patiently reading my thoughts on various political issues. Just to show that this is a multi-purpose blog, I've created my first YouTube video and have embedded it here. This is a Beethoven sonata that I'm particularly fond of, and I hope to perform it in a few months on a joint recital with my son Jeremy, who will also play the piano and sing. We'll be raising money to help fund his trip to the UK this summer as a People to People Student Ambassador.

In the meantime, though, I just like this music, and I thought some of you might enjoy it as well. If you're curious, the passage from about 3:14 to 3:28 is the one I described recently on Facebook as "one of the strangest passages of tonal music ever written."

Enjoy, and happy spring break!


  1. I just realized this doesn't show up on the embed (if that's a noun): This is the first movement of the Sonata no. 27 in E minor, Op. 90. Beethoven marked it "Mit Lebhaftigkeit und durchaus mit Empfindung und Ausdruck." (With liveliness, and with emotion and expression throughout.)

  2. So is there a documented case of Beethoven (or any composer, for that matter) marking a work as "with lethargy, passive and without expression throughout?

  3. Probably not, but the linguistic formulation is interesting. "Empfindung" literally means "receptivity," and "Ausdruck" means "pressing outward." Beethoven is telling you both to cultivate awareness and to channel it back into your playing. The fact that he called for "Lebhaftigkeit" rather than just telling you to be "lebhaft" also suggests a degree of conscious application that most tempo markings don't convey. Or maybe I'm over-interpreting.