MSC 3003 - Music in the Classic Period

Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:30-3:45 in Room 4-190

Beethoven's Cello Sonata No. 3 in A major
We are going to end with something a little bit off the beaten path, a cello Sonata by Beethoven.

Beethoven started writing pieces for cello and piano during his Bonn years, and he really made the genre his own.

Mozart had already published lots of sonatas for violin and piano - Beethoven contributes some very nice ones to that field but it's kind of Mozart's turf. With the cello sonata Beethoven identified a niche that wasn't being served and created the first important examples in the literature.

Variations on Magic Flute themes

One "light" kind of piece that Beethoven could sell was sets of variations on other people's themes, and with the cello he used two different themes from Mozart's Magic Flute.

Here's one that's based on Papageno and Pamina's sappy duet, what I labeled as "Number 8" in Act One.

And here's another set of Papageno variations on "Ein M├Ądchen oder Wiebchen," from Act Two (Number 23.)

Sonata for Cello and Piano No. 3 in A major, Op. 69

The Cello Sonata No. 3 is considered one of Beethoven's finest pieces. It was composed in 1808, just after the Fifth Symphony.

Unlike a lot of the hard-charging "heroic" works we've listened to, the A major sonata exudes a profound sense of peacefulness. I really think it's a nice piece to end the semester on.

First movement commentary

In this video I'll tell you some stuff about the first movement. If you want you can click here for an HD version in a new tab.

First movement, complete

HD version

Second movement, Scherzo

This is a great example of Beethoven's fondness for the Scherzo as a middle movement. Here the "tricky" bit is the way the cellist insists on putting notes on beat 3 all of the time, as though he or she is fighting with pianist.

Finale movement - Slow Introduction and Sonata Form

Beethoven apparently didn't feel like creating a complete, stand-alone slow movement, so he fused a short one onto the beginning of the third movement. After that we get a charming and fairly simple sonata form to end the piece.

OK, that's our last piece! Hope you enjoyed it.

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