The sonata has a subtitle "in the spirit of fantasy" (Italian. Quasi una fantasia), because it disrupts the traditional sequence of parts "quickly, slowly, [quickly], quickly." Instead, the sonata has a linear development trajectory – from the slow first part to the stormy finale.
There are 3 parts in the sonata: 1. Adagio sostenuto 2. Allegretto 3. Presto agitato
The Sonata was written in 1801 and published in 1802. This is the period when Beethoven increasingly complained of hearing impairment, but continued to be popular in the Viennese high society and had many students in aristocratic circles. On November 16, 1801, he wrote to his friend Franz Wegeler in Bonn: “The change that has occurred in me now is caused by a lovely, lovely girl who loves me and is loved by me. In these two years there were some magical moments and for the first time I felt that marriage could make a person happy. ”
It is believed that the “wonderful girl” was Beethoven’s student, the 17-year-old Countess Juliette Gvichchardi, to whom he dedicated the second Sonata Opus 27 or the Moonlight Sonata (Mondscheinsonate).
Beethoven met Juliet (who came from Italy) at the end of 1800. By November 1801, the cited letter was related to Wegeler, but already in the beginning of 1802, Juliet preferred to Beethoven, Count Robert Gallenberg, a mediocre amateur composer. On October 6, 1802, Beethoven wrote the famous “Gailigenstadt testament” – a tragic document in which desperate thoughts about hearing loss are combined with bitterness of deceived love. Dreams were finally dispelled on November 3, 1803, when Juliet married the count of Gallenberg.
The popular and surprisingly durable name "moon" was strengthened behind the sonata by the initiative of the poet Ludwig Relshtab, who (in 1832, after the author’s death) compared the music of the first part of the sonata to the scenery of Lake Eardwald Steeta on a moonlit night.
Against such a name sonatas have repeatedly objected. In particular, L. Rubinstein protested vigorously. “Moonlight,” he wrote, demands something dreamy, melancholic, thoughtful, peaceful, generally luminous in the musical image. The first part of the sonata cis-moll is tragic from the first to the last note (this is also hinted at by a minor key) and thus represents the sky covered with clouds – a gloomy emotional mood; the last part is stormy, passionate and, therefore, expressing something completely opposite to the gentle light. Only a small second part allows for minute moonlight. ".
This is one of the most popular Beethoven sonatas, and one of the most popular piano works in general (“Moonlight Sonata” in pop culture).
The first part, in C Sharp Minor, is written in a form close to a truncated sonata. It opens with octave chords in the left hand and triple figures in the right. The melody, which Berlioz called “crying,” takes place mostly in the right hand against the background of the ostinate trioles. The piece is performed pianissimo (very quiet), reaching at the climax only mezzo forte.
This adagio sostenuto made and makes a huge impression on the listener; so, Berlioz called him "one of those poems that cannot express human language." The work was very popular during the life of Beethoven, which somewhat annoyed the composer himself, who once remarked to his pupil Carl Czerny: “Of course, I wrote better things.”
Alexander Serov finds in the first part of the sonata an expression of "deadly despondency."
This part consists of three unusually expressive and very clearly distinguishable musical elements, as A. B. Goldenweiser writes: Quiet movement, as it were, choral chords, determined by the movement of bass octaves; harmonic triple shape, with inexorably passing through the whole part, is Beethoven’s comparatively rare example of the monotonous rhythmic movement sustained throughout the entire composition, so often seen in Bach, and, finally, the mournful inactive melodic voice rhythmically almost coinciding with the bass line. Combining into one harmonious whole, each of these elements lives an independent life, forming a continuous living declamatory line, and not “playing up” only its own party to the leading voice.
The second part is a rather ordinary scherzo and trio, a moment of relative calm before a stormy finale. It is written in D-flat major, the Enharmonic equal to C-sharp major, parallel to the tonality of the first part (C-sharp minor). Franz Liszt described the second part as a flower between two chasms. The piano dominates here dynamically, but the bright Sforzando and forte-piano oppositions give the music a rather cheerful general character.
Heinrich Neuhaus, “On the Art of the Piano Playing”: “The comforting” mood of the second part of not sufficiently sensitive students easily turns into an entertainment scherzando, which fundamentally contradicts the meaning of the work. I heard dozens, if not hundreds of times such an interpretation. In such cases, I usually remind the student of Liszt’s winged mot about this allegretto: “This is a flower between two chasms,” and I try to prove to him that this allegory is not accidental, that it surprisingly accurately conveys not only the spirit, but also the form of the composition, because the first bars the melodies are reminiscent of a drooping cup of a flower, and the subsequent ones – leaves hanging on a stalk. Please remember that I never “illustrate” music, that is, in this case, I do not say that this music is a flower – I say that it can cause a spiritual, visual impression of a flower, symbolize it, prompt the image of a flower to your imagination.
Alexander Serov: I forget to say that there is a scherzo in this sonata. It is impossible not to wonder how this scherzo mixed in here, which has nothing to do with the previous or the next. “This is a flower between two chasms,” Liszt said. Perhaps! But such a place, I believe, is not too impressive for a flower, so on this side, Mr. Liszt’s metaphor may not be without loyalty.
The ending (again in the pre-minor) is written in the sonata form, and this is the most developed part of the sonata. Beethoven will use the same approach – transferring the center of gravity to the final part – in the Sonatas Opus 27 No. 1 and Opus 101.
The combination of complex chromaticities and very fast accented arpeggios make this part of one of the most complex and even virtuoso works for piano solos, requiring the performer to have excellent technical skills to follow the metronome’s instructions.
It is believed that the third part of the Moon Sonata was the model and inspiration for Chopin’s impromptu Fantasy.
Romain Rolland: Sudden adagio … piano … A man, driven to an extreme, stops, breathing stopped. And when in a minute the breathing comes to life and the person rises, the vain efforts, sobs, and riots are over. Everything is said, the soul is devastated. In the last bars there remains only a majestic force, conquering, taming, receiving the flow.
The intensive use of Sforzando in combination with several strategically located passages fortissimo creates the feeling of a very powerful sound of the whole part, despite the formal predominance of piano. In this turbulent sonata allegro there are two main themes in which different techniques of variation are used.
Pedal in the "Moonlight Sonata".
At the beginning of the sonata, Beethoven is instructed in Italian: “The whole piece (I mean the first part) must be played very delicately and without dampers” (Si deve suonare tutto questo pezzo delicatissimamente e senza sordino). However, modern instruments have a much longer open-sounding time than Beethoven’s grand pianos, therefore, following this author’s recommendation, a very vague and discordant sound is created.
One way to solve this problem is to use authentic tools or their copies. Proponents of this historical approach to execution find it possible to accurately follow the author’s instructions, including those related to the pedal. ("Authentic" performance of Beethoven’s sonatas: part I, part II, part III (Beethovenfest-2009).)
When performing on modern instruments, most pianists try to achieve the same effect by periodically removing the pedal to avoid dissonance (as a rule, when changing harmony).
The half-pedal, the technique of not fully depressing the right pedal, is also often used to simulate the sound of instruments from the early 19th century. It is also possible the combination of half-pans and very short withdrawals.
For 150 years of its existence, the "moon" sonata has caused and delights musicians and all those who love music. This sonata, in particular, was highly appreciated by Chopin and Liszt (the latter made himself especially famous for her brilliant performance). Even Berlioz, generally speaking, rather indifferent to piano music, found poetry in the first part of the “lunar” sonata, inexpressible by human words.
In Russia, the "moon" sonata has always used and continues to use the most ardent confession and love. When Lenz, starting the evaluation of the "lunar" sonata, pays tribute to a multitude of lyrical digressions and memories, the emotion of the critic is disturbed, preventing him from focusing on the analysis of the subject.
Ulybyshev classifies the “moonlight” sonata to works marked by the “seal of immortality”, possessing “the rarest and most beautiful privilege — the privilege to like initiates and profanees alike — to enjoy as long as their ears to hear and hearts to love and suffer".
Serov called the “moon” sonata “one of the most inspired sonatas” by Beethoven.
The memories of V. Stasov about his young years are characteristic, when he and Serov enthusiastically perceived the performance of the “moon” sonata by Liszt. “It was,” writes Stasov in his memoirs, “School of Law forty years ago,” the very “dramatic music” that Serov and I dreamed most of all at that time and constantly exchanged thoughts in our correspondence, considering it to be the form to which all music must finally turn. It seemed to me that in this scene there is a whole series of scenes, a tragic drama: “in the first part there is a dreamy, gentle love and state of mind, at times filled with gloomy forebodings; further, in the second part (in scherzo) – the state of the spirit is more quiet, even playful – the hope is revived; finally, in the third part – despair, jealousy rage, and everything ends with a dagger blow and death ”.
Similar impressions experienced Stasov from the "moon" sonatas later, listening to A. Rubinstein’s play: ". Suddenly, quiet, important sounds came from some invisible spiritual depths, from afar, from afar. Some were sad, full of endless sadness, others thoughtful, crowded memories, forebodings of awful anticipation. I was immensely happy in those moments and only remembered to myself how, 47 years earlier, in 1842, I heard this very great sonatas performed by Liszt, in his III Petersburg concert. and now, after so many years, I again see a new genius musician and again I hear this great sonata, this wonderful drama, with love, jealousy and a terrible blow of a dagger at the end – again I am happy and drunk from music and poetry. ”
"Moonlight" sonata entered into Russian fiction. For example, this sonata is played in the time of cordial relations with her husband by the heroine of “Family happiness” Leo Tolstoy (chapters I and IX).
Naturally, the “lunar” sonata was devoted to many statements by Romain Rolland, an inspired explorer of Beethoven’s spiritual world and creative work.
Romain Rolland aptly describes the sonata’s image, linking it with Beethoven’s early disappointment in Juliet: “The illusion did not last long, and more suffering and anger than love can be seen in the sonata.” Calling the “moon” sonata “gloomy and fiery”, Romain Rolland very correctly derives its form from the content, shows that freedom combines in the sonata with harmony, that “the miracle of art and heart – the feeling manifests itself here as a powerful builder. The unity that the artist does not look for in the architectonic laws of a given passage or musical genre, he finds in the laws of his own passion. ”
In realistic psychologism, the “moon” sonata is the most important reason for its popularity. And of course, B. V. Asafiev, who wrote: “The emotional tone of this sonata was filled with power and romantic pathos. Music, nervous to excited, then flashes a bright flame, then nots in excruciating despair. Melody sings, crying. The deep cordiality inherent in the sonata being described makes her one of the most beloved and most accessible. It is difficult not to succumb to the effects of such sincere music – the spokeswoman of the immediate feeling "