A gesture of vitality among the grief

250th anniversary

Ludwig van Beethoven

 

A gesture of vitality among the grief

Piano Sonata No. 18 in E flat major (Op. 31, No. 3)
Interpreter: Claudio Arrau

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Teatro Colón, August 28, 1964.

Piano Sonata No. 18 in E-flat Major (Op. 31, No. 3) was composed in 1802, and can be considered as a transitional piece between an eminently classicist stylistic conception of Beethoven and a more personal conception of conceiving the works, in which certain revolutionary ideas in terms of form and structure come into play, which crystallized in the impulse of the Romantic style.

Thus, in the same Beethoven's sonata we can find compositional devices typical of the great classics such as Haydn and Mozart, and also -on the other hand- an unusual proposal is perceived within this piano repertoire: a sonata whose four movements (Allegro, Scherzo, Minuet and Presto) are in major mode and none is slow. These characteristics give the whole composition a unique cohesion with an evident vigor, whose third movement -centrally due to its rhythmic qualities and speed- gives the sonata the nickname of "La chasse" (The Hunt).

The story of the creation of this work is particular: just as the Sonatas Op. 31 can be considered a hinge within the composer's style (among other works of the time), it can also be taken this year -1802- as a break in personal life. On the recommendation of his doctor, Beethoven decided to spend that summer in Heiligenstadt. There he had a particularly active time of composition: he created no less than the three piano sonatas that form Op. 31, the Variations Op. 35, and completed Symphony No. 2.

His creativity flourished at a profoundly painful time in his life, which is evidenced in the famous "Heiligenstadt Testament" addressed to his brothers, where he left for the first time a written record of his terrible suffering, which pushed him to become a desperate and lonely man: "...when at some point I tried to forget is, oh, how hard I was forced to recognize the then double reality of my deafness".

With words of deep regret, Beethoven made clear to his family the decision to end his life, which of course he did not. This text was found after his death, together with the famous letters addressed to his "immortal beloved". That year, in the composer's biography and work, it was a proof of his deep spirit of self-improvement that represents a true inspiration for humanity.

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