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Listening to Classical Music Coursework

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Updated: Jun 12th, 2022

This first piece is the first movement of a piano sonata in C major by Ludwig Van Beethoven. It starts with one really fast part that makes me think about a train ride in the country. However, I don’t think there were trains in Beethoven’s time, so maybe it is a ride in a horse and buggy or in a boat on a fast river. The First theme is very quick and it sound like forward movement plus some kind of deviation, like maybe a fancy step by the horse, and then it ends in a set of notes going down that sound like the horse or horses stop.

It ends with a very fast part that seems to go in circles like maybe a dog chasing his tail, but it could also be the horse and buggy going up and down little hills, until it ends in single chords going down the piano, and ending on a rising chord. The whole thing sounds a lot like something accompanying the silent movie “The Perils of Pauline”, but this was also long after Beethoven’s death. It finishes falling notes like a shallow waterfall with sets of three notes going up like fish on a fish wheel. (Second theme – 0:58 )

This whole thing repeats, but with more complication, and then moves into a slower part like a waltz added in, and then the notes repeat the up and down pattern that sounded like shallow waterfall and this time the last notes after the chords going down are the sets of three notes in a pattern of middle-top-bottom, maybe each two notes apart, sounding like the song of an evening bird or a lark, getting really fast like it is flying away or maybe the horse is running faster. (Closing theme – 2:07)

The same pattern repeats again (First theme – 2:30 ) but there are variations once more that make it sound a little different. It is faster, but quieter at first, until it gets to the waterfall part (Second theme – 3:26), and it gets louder as if the water is falling faster and further. Then it moves into the part that sounded like running up and down hills in the first theme set but it is actually simplified and ends in repeated notes struck very hard on the piano.

The part which earlier was chords going down the piano is louder and stronger like the horses are leaping, so the buggy must be gone. It gets even faster and the rounding part is played with doubled notes to sound richer and fuller until it trails off into quieter triplets that are repeated more time. Then (Development – 4:59) the whole set of themes is repeated but with a lot left out, using just the important notes to remind the listener of the melodies. It gets extremely fast until it ends in really strong notes that make one think of raindrops on a pond, but it tumbles away like a boat going downstream and over rocks and through shallow rapids, backing up every few measures as if the boat is going around some rocks backwards and finally falling in sections with the notes that start higher and fall a few notes then start higher than the ending ones, but lower than the previous beginnings.

It is all like the water is growing deeper and flowing more. (Second theme – 8:06 ) We hear the whole first them once more but very quiet, until it gets to the falling water and the notes going up and then it gets loud until it reaches the really evenly spaced part that is like a waltz, finally ending in the little trills and the fourth theme of rounding notes like the up and down hills.

Recapitulation: (First theme – 6:55) The next repeat of the first theme is really fast and loud followed by really insistent notes like a storm appears. All the parts are faster and shortened. (Closing theme – 9:16)

The whole theme is repeated, but with each part only long enough for us to recognize it like a collage of themes. Then it ends in the really evenly spaced part (Coda – 9:45) played very quietly and finished off with several strongly struck chords.

This whole first movement sound like a story of maybe a race, using first a horse and buggy, then just the horse and finally putting the horse on a boat or a barge until the storm stops the race. I think Beethoven loved the outdoors and liked to watch the rhythms of nature, but also watched the people. This sonata could all be played with a film of things floating down a medium sized stream until it reaches the ocean. It is very exciting.

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