Listening Quest #12: Ludwig van Beethoven

Monday, March 7, 2016 by Vicki Martin | Listening Quest

Well, it's about time we got around to Ludwig van Beethoven. I hope you've heard of him. He was a German pianist and composer who lived from 1770-1827. He is most famous because although he went deaf, he continued to compose. About one third of all of his compositions were written while he was unable to hear them with his ears - only inside his head!

We're going to listen to part of one of his most famous piano sonatas, the Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, more commonly known as the Moonlight Sonata. He wrote 32 piano sonatas, which have been nicknamed the "pianist's New Testament" - the Old Testament being J.S. Bach's Preludes & Fugues (remember this one?). It is unusual in that the first movement doesn't start fast as a typical classical sonata does, but the third and last movement more than makes up for it. Here it is, played by Valentina Lisitsa:

IFrameExtra Exploring: Have you ever imagined what it would sound like if every key on the piano sounded the same? Android wondered, and bothered to make a piano that did just that. And Ji Yong Kim just happened to play the Moonlight Sonata on it. It's interesting but awful, and makes the point that we usually don't like it when everything is all the same. I say that all the time about dynamics within a piece, don't I?

IFrameExtra Extra Exploring: Why don't you listen to the whole sonata?