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Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty #503557
03/24/03 01:11 PM
03/24/03 01:11 PM
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New York City
Phlebas Offline OP
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Quote
Originally posted by katie:
I agree with StanSteel. This ranking is quite useful, but I too would appreciate the "descriptors".
Katie and StanSteel,
I think only a handful of them have names. I edited the first post adding the names of those I know.

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Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty #503558
03/24/03 01:33 PM
03/24/03 01:33 PM
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Posts: 2,519
European Union
benedict Offline
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Phlebas

What you did was great.
And everybody can propose his own list according to his criteria.

But thanks to you, we can think of Beethoven's sonata not as huge monuments that should intimidate us but as works of various difficulties like mountains that we can choose to climb according to our skill and stamina of the moment.

Thank you in the name of the people.
laugh


Benedict
Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty #503559
03/24/03 02:18 PM
03/24/03 02:18 PM
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Philly, PA
PianoMuse Offline
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I would be inclined to push Op.10 No.3 up on the difficulty rating...My piano teacher has done all of them ,and he stated that, for some reason, this is one is right up there with Waldenstein.


"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music." ~Rachmaninoff
Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty #503560
03/24/03 02:26 PM
03/24/03 02:26 PM
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New York City
Phlebas Offline OP
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Quote
Originally posted by PianoMuse:
I would be inclined to push Op.10 No.3 up on the difficulty rating...My piano teacher has done all of them ,and he stated that, for some reason, this is one is right up there with Waldenstein.
Op.10 #3 is indeed very difficult. Those broken sixths can keep you up all night with worry, and the last movement presents interpretive problems. Ah, but that second movement!
I still think it is placed appropriately on the list. It is not as difficult as the Waldstein, Op. 7 or the few that are ranked agead of it.
Could you tell me why your teacher thinks this one is so difficult. It is somewhat subjective, but since he has done all of them, I might have to defer to his opinion.

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty #503561
03/24/03 02:30 PM
03/24/03 02:30 PM
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Phlebas Offline OP
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Quote
Originally posted by benedict:
Phlebas

What you did was great.
And everybody can propose his own list according to his criteria.

But thanks to you, we can think of Beethoven's sonata not as huge monuments that should intimidate us but as works of various difficulties like mountains that we can choose to climb according to our skill and stamina of the moment.

Thank you in the name of the people.
laugh
Anytime, Benedict.
We got some very good feedback in this thread, and I may amend the list a bit. I wish I had time to do more of a categorization of the difficulties, as was also suggested, and which would be more useful.

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty #503562
03/24/03 08:42 PM
03/24/03 08:42 PM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 559
Chicago
Rick Offline
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What might also be very nice is ranking the individual sonata movements in order of difficulty. That would be quite a bit more work, and I'm not suggesting that you do it. But as someone at an upper intermediate level (I think?), there are very few Beethoven sonatas I could play completely. So I'm just picking a movement here and a movement there. In fact, I really wish that McGrath and Hinson did that in their publications.

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty #503563
03/24/03 09:31 PM
03/24/03 09:31 PM
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I would like to comment a trifle on the sonata I am doing now, the Op.22 in B flat major. It is really a fairly large work, about 25 minutes in duration. Compared to Mozart's sonatas, or even his earlier sonatas, this work is built on a larger scale. It is in the same key as the Hammerklavier, and they are both large works. (Although the Op.22 is obviously shorter and easier).

Of the 4 movements, I find the first, Allegro con brio, to be the hardest technically. The technique is mostly composed of arpeggios and scales, but to achieve maximum accuracy and play every note cleanly requires a good deal of work.

The Adagio con molta espressione is very beautiful, as Czerny points out in his book on playing Beethoven, the main interest lies in the different degrees of touch, rather than too much rubato or the like. The middle section is very interesting, it sounds a good deal like a Bach prelude.

The minuet is very graceful, the first part is relatively simple to play. The only possible difficulty could come in cleanly executing the grace notes. The minore reminds one of Chopin's C minor etude (Revolutionary) in its design, I did not find this part too difficult, although there are one or two tricky spots.

The last movement is fantastic, the Rondo Allegretto. The opening theme requires a playful singing touch, with the left-hand counterpoint clearly played as well. (The figurations in the left hand serve as a more subdued melodic role). The section with the left hand thirds and fast right hand 32nd notes fits well under my hands after some practice, the difficulty perhaps is in making it piano while gradually increasing the dymanics. I had a little bit of trouble on the last page, with the rapid left-hand scale and the right hand chords. My main problem was making those thirds in the right hand come out evenly; the left hand itself where most of the action is going on is not too bad.

In conclusion, this sonata not only great to develop numerous facets of one's technique, but it is surely a masterpiece that is beautiful and exciting.

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty #503564
03/25/03 08:01 AM
03/25/03 08:01 AM
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Posts: 4,654
New York City
Phlebas Offline OP
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Quote
Originally posted by CrashTest:
I would like to comment a trifle on the sonata I am doing now, the Op.22 in B flat major.
Good luck in playing the Op. 22. I always loved that piece - esp. the last movement - and you summed it up very well. Do you think it is placed correctly on the list, since you have an extensive knowledge of this peice?

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty #503565
03/25/03 11:31 AM
03/25/03 11:31 AM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 6,467
Phoenix, AZ
Nina Offline
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BruceD

Thanks for taking the time to translate and post the scoring rubric.

I agree with the idea-- to simply say something is easy or difficult doesn't really catch the true flavor of the issue (although it is still a worthwhile exercise).

I'm thinking of all the comments we've probably all typed and read here that provide the same flavor: something is easy to play, but difficult to pull off musically, or easy to play except for that middle section, really really hard to even get the notes in at speed, etc.

Nina

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty #503566
03/25/03 05:08 PM
03/25/03 05:08 PM
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CrashTest Offline
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I think the Op.22 could be a bit higher on the list, since it is probably a trifle harder than Op.90 or one of the other ones. The difficulties are not as much as in the later sonatas, but it is still a challenging piece.

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty #503567
03/25/03 09:10 PM
03/25/03 09:10 PM
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Posts: 1,232
Santiago, Chile
đanor Offline
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i studied the op.22 last year. And indeed its a very beautifull sonata that's not played often.

i dont think allegro con brio is the hardest movement. i didnt have anyproblem with. But the rondˇ!! that thirds kill me (specially in the final). The second movement is incredible...
Good luck CrashTest, you choose very well...

now im studyng the op.7 and im not sure if it's harder than the apassionatta. Anyway the difficult is that is like a real symphony, specially the first mvnt, you have to play all the time with timbres..

I last opinion. I dont think waldstein is that hard, do you agree with me guys?


ss ao lr ue dt on si .u dq ar no on ra qd u. is no td eu rl oa ss
Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty #503568
03/25/03 09:13 PM
03/25/03 09:13 PM
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CrashTest Offline
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The Waldstein fits the hands very nicely, the 3rd movement is more of a challenge than the first I feel.

As far as the Op.22 goes, I still think that the allegro con brio is has more technical rough spots in the whole of things than the rondo. The rondo only has a feel rough passages (The one you mentioned in thirds and the arpeggio). To play up to tempo, this one is a lot easier than the Allegro. Each person is different I guess! laugh

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty #503569
06/29/03 02:11 PM
06/29/03 02:11 PM
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Posts: 29
yangkai Offline
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I thought there are 38 sonatas and not 32? according to the sonata book of beethoven in vol I and II, there are 38 sonatas.

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty #503570
06/29/03 02:22 PM
06/29/03 02:22 PM
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,654
New York City
Phlebas Offline OP
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Quote
Originally posted by yangkai:
I thought there are 38 sonatas and not 32? according to the sonata book of beethoven in vol I and II, there are 38 sonatas.
Not sure which edition you are working from. Why don't you list the ones that are missing with their opus numbers.

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty #503571
06/29/03 02:36 PM
06/29/03 02:36 PM
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Chicago, IL USA
Palindrome Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by BruceD:
Here is not an ideal answer, but a curious aid.

I have a photocopy of a work entitled : Principes Rationnels de la Technique Pianistique published by Editions Maurice Senart, (Paris, 1928) (no author credited on the title page!!) which has several hundred piano works rated in 4 degrees of difficulty...

This work is limited in its usefulness as it rates only compositions by Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Clementi, Beethoven, Hummel, von Weber, Schubert, Czerny (!), Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Brahms, and Franck, along with some works for harpsichord by such as Frescobaldi, the Scarlattis, Couperin, Rameau, Farnaby (?) and John Bull.
Alfred Cortot. A masterful work, limited only by a lack of a bottle of ambition/energy/determination to help the aspiring instrumentalist get all that work done! It's available in English, as well, and on better paper than the French editions I've seen.

Only Bach, Handel, etc. Good heavens, man, how much do expect one person to do?


There is no end of learning. -Robert Schumann Rules for Young Musicians
Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty #503572
06/29/03 03:52 PM
06/29/03 03:52 PM
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CrashTest Offline
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I was reading these rankings again, and it is interesting from a technical viewpoint to look at such things. Maybe some more list can be compiled of other composer's works as well?

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty #503573
06/29/03 06:26 PM
06/29/03 06:26 PM
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New York City
pianoloverus Offline
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Why is Op. 101 considered so difficult? I have heard some famous pianists talk of its difficulty and many people on this board obviously think it's difficult. But when I look at the score I don't see why it's so difficult except for the double thirds in the last movement. I don't and couldn't play this sonata, but I am interested in some details about why it's considered so hard.

By the way, Richard Goode once said something like the following: each of the sonatas has its own personality and Op. 101 is the type of personality he likes the most.

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty #503574
06/29/03 06:36 PM
06/29/03 06:36 PM
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McAllen, TX
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Brendan Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by pianoloverus:
Why is Op. 101 considered so difficult? I have heard some famous pianists talk of its difficulty and many people on this board obviously think it's difficult. But when I look at the score I don't see why it's so difficult except for the double thirds in the last movement. I don't and couldn't play this sonata, but I am interested in some details about why it's considered so hard.
It's one of the most awkward things that Beethoven wrote (along with the finale of op. 106 and the fugue in the Diabelli Variations). Like you said, you can't understand the difficulty of it if you can't play it.

The music is very deep also, taking lots of time to mature.

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty #503575
06/29/03 06:43 PM
06/29/03 06:43 PM
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I've played Op. 101, and here's why it's that hard:

The first movement is difficult where pedalling is concerned. The harmonies change quite often, but you have to keep the phrases long and let them all melt one to the next seamlessly.

The second movement requires a great deal of focus and drive to avoid making the dotted 8th/16th rhythm trivialized into triplets. Articulation is key, without it, the whole march fails. Again, the slow section has some awkward fingering and pedalling moments.

The third movement isn't too bad. smile

The fugue isn't bad, as fugues go, but the development section is a bit of a finger twister, especially with all the trills.

Overall, the biggest issue with Op. 101 is that every single note of the piece is important. The composition is that tight - nothing is extraneous. Because of that, you have to be focused and "on-the-ball" from beginning to end, without exception. Sure, parts of Opp. 54, 111, and even 7 might make more demands on your technical equipment from time to time, but 101 is no slouch in that regard, and it demands your thoughtful attention and intellect for every one of its glorious measures.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty #503576
06/29/03 08:04 PM
06/29/03 08:04 PM
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Phoenix, AZ
Nina Offline
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Kreisler:

Your analysis of Op. 101 is about as tight and well-composed as the actual sonata! Well said...

Nina

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