This week you will be listening to music of Beethoven composed between the years 1795-1800. This was an especially critical period in Beethoven’s life because of the deafness that began and continued to develop in these years. Beethoven hit a crisis point during the summer of 1802 when he was 28 years old. His doctor had advised him to go to the country to try and protect what hearing he still had so he spent the summer in a small town outside of Vienna called Heiligenstadt. During that summer he wrestled with his physical condition and was so distraught by his hearing loss that he even contemplated suicide. He wrote a letter to his two brothers, which in part was a will so they would know what to do with his belongings after his death. Thankfully, this document has been preserved, and has come to be known as the Heiligenstadt Testament. In it we get a glimpse into Beethoven’s thinking, can read his despair and how he resolved to continue life even with this devastating physical problem. It is probably this struggle and ultimately how he determined to live on in spite of his challenges, that draw us to Beethoven’s music. And that struggle and triumph which is so evident in his music, still speaks to us today and continues to inspire.
Pathetique Sonata- The first movement has a Grave (slow and profound) introduction followed by an Allegro section. The Grave section returns before the recapitulation. How would you describe the emotional message of this movement? Try to think beyond happy or sad. Defiant? Triumphant? Despairing? Frightened? Angry? Furious? Courageous?
The next piece is the Piano Concerto No. 1. Notice how the pianist is conducting from the piano bench. What is the emotional message(s) of this piece? Try to find as many descriptive words as you can as you listen to this glorious piece.