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entire LvB sonata??
#2822038 03/02/19 05:32 PM
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Hi Everyone. smile

Can anyone share with me what the benefits or joys are of learning an entire sonata as opposed to just a movement or two?

I’m currently learning the 4th movement (prestissimo) of Beethoven’s Sonata op. 2 no.1. Won’t ever be able to play it prestissimo, but I’ve got parts of it worked up to 130 bpm and I’m really happy about that. Even if I only get it up to 130-140 I’ll be satisfied with what I’ve learned from this piece.

Now, Im wondering whether to try to learn the entire sonata. Was able to play the first movement a couple of years ago (not polished) and at the same time practiced the third movement a bit. The only movement I haven’t put my fingers to is the second. So, I think it is probably within reach! But would likely take me the rest of the year to do. The counter to that is that life is short, there is a lot of Beethoven out there to learn, and I’ve already put in a lot of time on individual movements of this sonata.

If I didn’t learn the entire 2/1 sonata, then I’d probably move to one of the op. 14 sonata movements after I finish with the 2/1 prestissimo. I love Beethoven so I always like to be working on something Beethoven.

I know there is no right answer to this, just wondering if other people have found it a worthwhile thing to do!

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Re: entire LvB sonata??
Valencia #2822044 03/02/19 05:38 PM
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The second movement is beautiful and well worth a go. I’m definitely a fan of learning whole sonatas because the movements were put together as a whole for good reason.


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Re: entire LvB sonata??
ShyPianist #2822045 03/02/19 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by ShyPianist
I’m definitely a fan of learning whole sonatas because the movements were put together as a whole for good reason.

I agree with you, but not everyone does and this topic has some degree of controversy.


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Re: entire LvB sonata??
Valencia #2822046 03/02/19 05:48 PM
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I have learned single movements of sonatas. Why not? It makes sense if you do not love the entire piece or do not want to invest the time to learn the other movements,



Re: entire LvB sonata??
Valencia #2822052 03/02/19 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Valencia
Now, Im wondering whether to try to learn the entire sonata. Was able to play the first movement a couple of years ago (not polished) and at the same time practiced the third movement a bit. The only movement I haven’t put my fingers to is the second. So, I think it is probably within reach! But would likely take me the rest of the year to do. The counter to that is that life is short, there is a lot of Beethoven out there to learn, and I’ve already put in a lot of time on individual movements of this sonata.

If I didn’t learn the entire 2/1 sonata, then I’d probably move to one of the op. 14 sonata movements after I finish with the 2/1 prestissimo. I love Beethoven so I always like to be working on something Beethoven.

If you're not actually thinking of performing the sonata, you can do what you like.

But why not try sight-reading through the lovely slow movement too? It won't take long to learn it, especially if you don't plan to memorize it.


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Re: entire LvB sonata??
Valencia #2822055 03/02/19 06:07 PM
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As my user name indicates I have a thing for Beethovens sonatas, and a big target of mine is the Presto from the Moonlight. Unfortunately, realistically I am years away from that target, but in the mean time I will not deny myself the one or the other movement from some of the other sonatas. They are not all equally difficult, so in my view there is no need to await the proficiency required to complete a single sonata. Just go for anything that is within reach - provided you like it of course.


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Re: entire LvB sonata??
ShyPianist #2822061 03/02/19 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by ShyPianist
The second movement is beautiful and well worth a go. I’m definitely a fan of learning whole sonatas because the movements were put together as a whole for good reason.


True. But we, and our listeners (lol) aren't as patient as that generation who wrote this stuff. So, at the very least, leave out the repeats!
Personally, I'd do the parts of the Sonata which interested me as long as the finished product seemed in balance.
I believe those composers could have written their music in so many different ways, and perhaps nearly did. . .


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Re: entire LvB sonata??
Valencia #2822064 03/02/19 06:27 PM
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Concert pianists virtually never perform one movement of a sonata although that was not always the case. In the 19th century some pianists played single movements or even combined movements from different sonatas.

I think ideally one should try to learn a whole sonata because the entire sonata is one piece. But if one dislikes the other movements or lacks the time this is certainly not a requirement for amateurs who can very reasonably perform a single movement even in a recital.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 03/02/19 06:28 PM.
Re: entire LvB sonata??
peterws #2822065 03/02/19 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by peterws
Originally Posted by ShyPianist
The second movement is beautiful and well worth a go. I’m definitely a fan of learning whole sonatas because the movements were put together as a whole for good reason.


True. But we, and our listeners (lol) aren't as patient as that generation who wrote this stuff. So, at the very least, leave out the repeats!
Personally, I'd do the parts of the Sonata which interested me as long as the finished product seemed in balance.
I believe those composers could have written their music in so many different ways, and perhaps nearly did. . .

Well, although, as mentioned above, I'm in favor of playing an entire work together as the composer intended, I will admit to being mystified by some works out there and what the composer actually intended. So to pick on QuasiUnaFantasia's pet sonata, can someone explain to me what musicologists think Beethoven himself intended with the 3 movements of Moonlight? Like why did he make them three movements of one sonata? I don't get it. (Note: different question from whether we should be listening to these 3 together)

On the other hand, some commonly divided works like Suite bergamasque vs. Clair de lune are completely understandable to me - I definitely get why the former includes the latter, and it's a bit sad to me that the entire Suite bergamasque work is lost as only the 1/4 piece which is CdL remains in contemporary popular memory.


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Re: entire LvB sonata??
Valencia #2822082 03/02/19 06:51 PM
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Quote
True. But we, and our listeners (lol) aren't as patient as that generation who wrote this stuff. So, at the very least, leave out the repeats!


Sad but true. Luckily for me I don’t have to worry about it as I have no plans for there to be any listeners any more except my long suffering husband and kids. 😆

However I would stick with what I said. Even if one has no plans to perform the whole thing (although I can’t really see why not to be honest, as the audience presumably expects to hear more than one piece so why not the contrasting but complementary movements of one sonata?), I would always advocate at least familiarising oneself with the whole work. Sure some movements might be beyond you at the time, but you get to understand the movements you DO learn fully within their proper context. I guess following a recording with the score would do a similar job, but I would rather play them myself.

Last edited by ShyPianist; 03/02/19 06:51 PM.

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Re: entire LvB sonata??
Tyrone Slothrop #2822101 03/02/19 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
I will admit to being mystified by some works out there and what the composer actually intended. So to pick on QuasiUnaFantasia's pet sonata, can someone explain to me what musicologists think Beethoven himself intended with the 3 movements of Moonlight? Like why did he make them three movements of one sonata? I don't get it.

Actually, the three movements 'fit' together very well. As long as you don't take the "Moonlight" nickname seriously - and one shouldn't.

The middle movement is the (enharmonic parallel major) bridge between two contrasting movements in C# minor, and in fact, the finale follows so logically from the middle movement that most pianists play it attacca. Note that the first note of the Presto agitato is the same on the piano as the last bottom note of the Allegretto (though notated differently of course: D flat and C#).

As the great musicologist Donald Francis Tovey said: "If you do not understand the other movements, you will have but a shallow idea of the first."



Quote
On the other hand, some commonly divided works like Suite bergamasque vs. Clair de lune are completely understandable to me - I definitely get why the former includes the latter, and it's a bit sad to me that the entire Suite bergamasque work is lost as only the 1/4 piece which is CdL remains in contemporary popular memory.

Suites are different from sonatas.

The former don't tend to have a logical key structure (Suite bergamasque starts with a Prélude in F major and ends with a dance in F# minor) and each piece is self-contained with rarely any specific relation to the other pieces (though suites do tend to be collections of dances, of course, especially in the Baroque era). Whereas sonatas have very specific movements that relate in some way, including keys.


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Re: entire LvB sonata??
Valencia #2822207 03/03/19 04:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Valencia
Now, Im wondering whether to try to learn the entire sonata.

Hi Valencia, you are in the stage that I dream of. You can decide for yourself what you want to play.
I would listen to the second movement, look at the notes, and then listen to other pieces, look at those notes, and simply decide which piece of music I want to spend quite a lot of time with - without thinking about if it is part of a sonata or not. Just which music do I want to interact with these coming months? (Oh how I dream of this stage....)

Originally Posted by Valencia
life is short, there is a lot of Beethoven out there to learn

Exactly. Chose the piece that will give you most enjoyment.


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Re: entire LvB sonata??
bennevis #2822216 03/03/19 05:39 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
I will admit to being mystified by some works out there and what the composer actually intended. So to pick on QuasiUnaFantasia's pet sonata, can someone explain to me what musicologists think Beethoven himself intended with the 3 movements of Moonlight? Like why did he make them three movements of one sonata? I don't get it.

Actually, the three movements 'fit' together very well. As long as you don't take the "Moonlight" nickname seriously - and one shouldn't.

The middle movement is the (enharmonic parallel major) bridge between two contrasting movements in C# minor, and in fact, the finale follows so logically from the middle movement that most pianists play it attacca. Note that the first note of the Presto agitato is the same on the piano as the last bottom note of the Allegretto (though notated differently of course: D flat and C#).

As the great musicologist Donald Francis Tovey said: "If you do not understand the other movements, you will have but a shallow idea of the first."

Thank you. I will have to listen to the entire thing now with your notes in mind and see if it is any more comprehensible to me.


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"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: entire LvB sonata??
Valencia #2822230 03/03/19 06:50 AM
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I'm working on the entire #12 now - opus 26. This may be my only chance to learn a complete sonata and perform it (hopefully a year from now), so I want to give it a try. That's an odd sonata, since none of the 4 movements are in sonata form. The 1st movement (theme and variations) is as long as the other three combined. One of the variations is a short funeral march, and the slow movement of the sonata is a funeral march. One of the variations is a scherzo, and there is a separate scherzo movement. It all ends with a "rondo" movement. I haven't even thought about what I should or could do (if anything) to tie all that together.

Sam

Re: entire LvB sonata??
Valencia #2822273 03/03/19 09:52 AM
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I've learned several single movements of the sonatas, and I think that's perfectly fine. Now I'm back to working on Op 2 No 3 again, relearning the 1st & 2nd movements but also learning the others.

I recall at the time that I was really intimidated by the 4th movement, so I just didn't bother learning the whole thing and moved on to other pieces. But I really enjoy the entire sonata and do feel as though when taken in its entirety it's a nice piece to listen to.

So if you like the other movements, go for it! But don't feel you have to. It sounds like you already have your sights on Op 14, so go for that, and if you love the other movements, you'll come back to them.


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Re: entire LvB sonata??
Tyrone Slothrop #2822312 03/03/19 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by peterws
Originally Posted by ShyPianist
The second movement is beautiful and well worth a go. I’m definitely a fan of learning whole sonatas because the movements were put together as a whole for good reason.


True. But we, and our listeners (lol) aren't as patient as that generation who wrote this stuff. So, at the very least, leave out the repeats!
Personally, I'd do the parts of the Sonata which interested me as long as the finished product seemed in balance.
I believe those composers could have written their music in so many different ways, and perhaps nearly did. . .

Well, although, as mentioned above, I'm in favor of playing an entire work together as the composer intended, I will admit to being mystified by some works out there and what the composer actually intended. So to pick on QuasiUnaFantasia's pet sonata, can someone explain to me what musicologists think Beethoven himself intended with the 3 movements of Moonlight? Like why did he make them three movements of one sonata? I don't get it. (Note: different question from whether we should be listening to these 3 together)
.


The title is misleading. "Moonlight" as understood by most in this context, equals "gloomy" which is also a bit naughty. It's miserable, depressive, and gets worse as the movement progresses, yet it has a strange beauty too That's why it's so popular; it conjours up, like no other, a particular frame of mind.
I would never use it at a funeral, for instance, willingly. But it is a popular choice, of course.
However, if you follow through with the second movement, suddenly the mood lifts. The light is switched on, the mood is pure joy. A total contrast, don't you think? No middle ground here. It's one or the other!
Wasn't Beethoven himself like that? I imagine so. Contrasting dark and light moods interspersed with anger and sorrow.
The third movement is anger, uncontrollable rage. Tremendous piece; I get angry trying to play it.

I imagine Beethoven to be a man for all seasons, a law unto himself, emotionally extreme.
We probably have a medical term for this now. He could have received benefits for his condition, and not needed to produce all this wonderful music . . . . smile


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Re: entire LvB sonata??
peterws #2822350 03/03/19 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by peterws

I imagine Beethoven to be a man for all seasons, a law unto himself, emotionally extreme.
We probably have a medical term for this now. He could have received benefits for his condition, and not needed to produce all this wonderful music . . . . smile


LOL. That is disconcertingly accurate!


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Re: entire LvB sonata??
Valencia #2822435 03/03/19 04:34 PM
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Thanks everyone! Yesterday I spent some time going over the 2nd movement and I think I will learn it regardless of whether I go back to relearn the 1st and 3rd movements. Previously i was intimidated to play it because of all the turns. But it will be good practice to work with the metronome to try to get the turns and the timing of the piece. Plus it's beautiful and only 4 pages so hopefully won't take me too long.

Sam S, I love Op 26 and have thought about trying the first movement! This is the same kind of thinking i had regarding learning this whole sonata....it might be the only time I am ever this close to being able to do it. And maybe I should try it at least once in my life.

Animisha, you will get there! This is the first time I've ever been able to contemplate learning one of Beethoven's sonatas in its entirety. Most of his works are still way out of my league (and many always will be). The fourth movement in this piece was the technical hurdle I thought I'd never surpass, and I've spent a LOT of time on it. In some ways I didn't surpass it because I am playing the piece so slowly. In Jonathan Biss's lecture on this sonata on Coursera, and he said for Beethoven, prestissimo is not just as fast as possible but verging on out of control. My playing is like a relaxed walk in the park in comparison! But I've improved a lot since starting and it is fun to play.

Maybe I'll casually go back and revisit the first movement and see if it will be possible to learn again without huge difficulty. When I learned it the first time, I found it hard as the notes just didn't want to stick in my brain.

The Op 14 sonatas were a couple of others that I thought might be accessible to me. that's why I thought of moving on to those next.


Last edited by Valencia; 03/03/19 04:35 PM.
Re: entire LvB sonata??
Valencia #2822438 03/03/19 04:38 PM
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After I learned the first movement of the "Moonlight," my ears kept enticing me into the second. Now I'm beginning on the third--a stretch, but my teacher hasn't warned me off it, and I'm sure he would if he thought it was impossible for me. I'm not doing this from any devotion to completeness, though. In a lot of cases I'm happy to learn single movements. Also, as a practical matter, my performances are typically limited to the 4-5-minute range because they fall during church services. I would love to play better, but I do love the flexibility of being an amateur and just playing what I want.


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Re: entire LvB sonata??
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After having struggled some time I'm able to play all three movements of Op.14 no.1. I'm still reluctant to try playing the sonata for a live audience, however. I think I have to spend the additional time to completely memorize the sonata before I try that. While many of the Beethoven sonatas are technically difficult and rather long, this one is doable for an amateur. There are some tricky places, but it is much shorter than the preceding ones. This was the reason why I chose it.

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