Beethoven - Piano Sonata No. 23, 'Appassionata'

Composed between 1803 and 1804, the 'Appassionata' is one of Beethoven's most tempestuous works for the piano.

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Ludvig van Beethoven composed his storm-tossed 'Appassionata' Sonata No.23 (1803-04) at a time when his hearing was deteriorating rapidly. Its revolutionary spirit is established right at the very outset as the ghostly opening is brutally swept aside by a lacerating outburst featuring full chords in both hands. Beethoven's piano output doesn't really come close to this level of stormy emotion until his Sonata No. 29, the Hammerklavier.

The central theme and four variations act as a soothing balm before a pair of dramatic chords announces the finale, a moto perpetuo of explosive dynamic contrasts, capped by a breathless coda of venomous power and intensity. At one memorable performance given by Beethoven, he had a technician on stand-by whose job it was to prize away the broken strings as the Master pummelled the instrument into submission. Thanks to this piece, classical music would never be the same again.

Beethoven, 'Appassionata' Sonata - Video

Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 23 recordings