Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Program note written by Jacob Farmer
IV. Tema con variazoni. Allegretto
Approximate Performance Time:
Advanced – appropriate for college undergraduates
James Galway & Phillip Moll. Sonata for Piano and Flute in B-Flat Major, Anh. 4. Sony Music, 2014. MP3.
Emmanuel Pahud, Eric Le Sage. Sonata for Flute and Piano in B Flat Major, WoO Anh 4. Naive, 2006. MP3.
Fleury, Louis. “The Flute and Its Powers of Expression.” Oxford Journals. The University of Oxford, n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.
Ludwig van Beethoven was born in 1770 in Bonn, Germany, and is one of the most iconic and well-known composers of all time. He was the son of the singer in Kapelle of the Archbishop-Elector of Cologne. At the age of 22, Beethoven took lessons of Haydn, making him well-known as an accomplished keyboardist. However, by the age of 45 he was almost completely deaf, and public performances were impossible. He continued writing with an unconventional style, often controversial due to his works’ length and complexity. Beethoven’s nine symphonies served as the foundation for other composers to come, with Symphony No. 3 being the best known even to this day. In addition, he wrote overtures for theater, concertos for solo instruments, chamber, and piano music. Beethoven died in 1827.
Beethoven starts the piece in B-flat major with a delightful and lively flute melody. The flute is clearly the solo instrument with piano accompanied versus an equal level of difficulty. The second movement is a Polonaise, which is a typical Polish dance in 3/4 time, usually danced by the nobility. The Largo movement of the sonata features long, gentle flute melodies over a sparse piano accompaniment. The final movement of this sonata utilizes one of Beethoven’s most noted compositional techniques: variations. The Allegretto contains the primary theme with four developed variations.