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  • Writer's pictureAyanthi Anandagoda

Pathetique Sonata - 2nd Movement

Beethoven wrote 35 piano sonatas and spans through his entire life time and as such it is a great resource to study the development of his composition techniques.

Written in 1798 at 27 years of age and published the following year, the sonata is a dedication to a prince Karl von Lichnowsky.

Movement 1 of this sonata is filled with darkness and turmoil. In contrast, the adagio cantabile Movement 2 is a unhurried, calm and meditative and in rondo form written in the key of A flat Major and finds similarities with Mozart's sonata C minor. Movement 3 is a light hearted rondo.

The second movement is symmetrical without being predictable. It relaxes the listener on long legato lines.

RH singing in the very low register

LH accompaniment playing chord notes powering the melody to move forward.

Almost tearful impact of the Sudden burst of ornamentation

In its rondo form, the theme appears twice, each with mere cosmetic changes stacked up with two brief episodes with a hint of darkness. The third section of the movement is a dialog between the two hands, and includes a modulating section to E major and diminished chords. When the theme returns the third time, it retains the triplets from the earlier section making it more fuller this time.

Wide bass and the. Suddenly disappears as it lifting the melody higher. Base then Returns and we land safely on the coda with cafe rail progressions falling down through the registers.

Even more intimate with a suggestion of unrest

a rich and turbulent inner body

the calm is never unthreatened, with misplaced accents injecting a note of unrest

The transformation power of music is otherworldy

Each of the final phrases of the piece is more questioning, open-ended, and vulnerable than the one before, and rather than resolve, the music simply stops, in midsentence, harmonically far from home

rhythmically and harmonically, the music closes in on itself:

The voice inches first upward,

The piano simply plays its part alone, at times encompassing the now unsung line, at times providing only a skeleton.

The first time I ever heard this piece of music, which was then broadcasted on the national telivision in Colombo, it completely transformed me. I recall hearing it the first time around the time I was 12 to 15, and staring in to the screen completely gobsmacked by the transformative power of it. I did not know it then, but I know it now, this music changed the course of my life completely.

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