What better way to begin 2014, musically speaking, then to become better acquainted with the music of Ludwig van Beethoven?  Even after 187 years since his death (1770-1827) his music still draws us in and speaks a language we can understand.

The selection for this week is the Sonata No. 8 Op. 13 in c minor, also known as the Pathetique.  The word “pathetique” as used to describe this sonata, does not mean pitiful or weak, as our word “pathetic” means today.  But rather the word is meant to convey the sense of grandeur and drama that is created by this sonata.

This work has three parts or movements: the first- Grave;Allegro di molto e con brio. The second – Adagio Cantabile, and the third- Rondo.  Think of it as three different chapters of a book, each telling a different part of the story.

As you are listening to each of these movements, what atmosphere or character is presented?  Is it peaceful, energetic, suspenseful, joyful, inspirational, angry, triumphant, passionate, calm, resigned?  Music delivers an emotional message, often several, and can speak to the deepest parts of our emotions.  But it takes more than just one or two times to understand the message and that is why well written music can be listened to over and over again and we come away with something new each time.  Translate the words of the titles to each movement as they are also clues to the musical message.

As you listen to this Sonata over the next week, see if you can sing any of the melodies by the end of the week, or try playing them by ear on the piano.  Make this incredible piece of music part of your life-long journey.  You won’t regret it!

Sonata No. 8 Op. 13- Grave – played by Aya Nagatomi

Sonata No. 8 No. 13 – Adagio cantabile – played by Daniel Barenboim

Sonata No. 8 No. 13 – Rondo- played by Freddy Kempf