Beethoven's "Für Elise"
and "Moonlight Sonata"
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) is an unusual genius,
especially since he was struck at a young age with deafness. His great talent allowed him to be the engine for the transition between classicism and romanticism that marked western world’s worship of music at the turn of the nineteenth century. As an accomplished composer, his most outstanding works are numerous and known to the public, including the Symphony No. 3, Symphony No. 7, Piano Concerto No.5 "Emperor" Piano Sonata nº23 "Appassionata" or the opera Fidelio (1805-1814) and Missa Solemnis (1818-1822). The art of the composer is expressed through several musical genres: symphonic music was the most successful of the genres, but he is also known for his piano writing and in chamber music. Beethoven is one of the most influential figures in the history of music through the heroic and optimistic reading that made romanticism from the compositions of this character. The message that Beethoven conveys in all his works seems to reach a rare universal understanding that is still relevant today.
Some of his pieces are dedicated to women which Beethoven fell madly in love with according to some biographical sources.
The Bagatelle in A minor "Für Elise" has especially influenced the musical landscape. It is a short piano piece published as a collection and has a strongly contrasting character. Many hypotheses revolve around the identity of Elise: it could be in fact a certain Therese of Brunswick, who was engaged to Beethoven, or Therese von Malfattu Röhrenbach zu Dezza, who had rejected the composer’s proposal. The piece was thus initially called "For Therese," but the illegible title was poorly transcribed in the publication of the work in 1865. As for the musical structure of this bagatelle, which is AABACA, it adopts a rondo form ( poco moto 3/8 in A minor) and has 103 bars. The central part A has a singing character and a pattern developed in the right hand that is accompanied by arpeggios in the left hand. Part B adopts a rather gallant style, while the final section, Section C, results in a more dramatic look and an agitated melody, transmitting all the spirit and frustration of love of a genius into incomparable talent.
Fur Elise by Frederic Bernachon :
The structure of "Für Elise" includes three movements: Adagio sostenuto in C sharp minor (69 bars), Allegretto in D flat major (60 bars) and Presto agitato in C sharp minor (200 bars). The first movement, which must be fully played between piano and pianissimo, has dark harmonies that offer a gloomy shade but deeply emotional. Humour marks the second movement, which alternates between legato and staccato with rests, octaves and sforzandos, all in a very cheerful tone. The gloomy atmosphere then comes back with force. The almost violent passion of the last movement is reflected in the length and technical difficulty of the composition: Beethoven used arpeggios, broken octaves and very powerful and complex bass, exposing all of his talent at the end.
Sonata nº14 in C sharp minor (Op. 27, No. 2), also known as "Moonlight Sonata" is a prime example of the romantic character of Beethoven's work.
Moonlight Sonata, 1st movement by Frederic Bernachon :
The title "Moonlight Sonata" will be given only after the composer's death where the poet Ludwig Rellstab mentioned that the melody of the first movement made him think of "the moon’s reflections on the waves of Lake Lucerne" although this part of the work is a funeral march and the whole sonata is considered a mourning music. This work was nevertheless published with a dedication to the Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, a young girl who Beethoven also fell in love according to the anecdotes of the time: it is possible to detect a very deep and intimate feeling throughout the composition.
Moonlight Sonata, 3d movement by Frederic Bernachon: