The 365 Commitment

Sonata Pathétique

So yesterday I went to my daughter Belle’s piano recital. She got called up right away, so after enjoying her amazing performance we did the polite thing and waited through the rest of the performances. One of the young men that plays chess at my club in town, got up to play. He went through one song, that seems a decent enough job. Then he finished by playing the second movement of Beethoven’s Sonata #8, Sonata Pathétique. 

Beethoven finished this work for the piano during the tail end of what is called his “early period” when he was 27 years old. I am a Mozart fan personally, and so was Beethoven. In fact as a child he almost got accepted as a student of Mozart, but his mother’s illness prevented him from staying in Vienna. Many have compared this famous sonata with Mozart’s great work, Sonata #14. In fact, a great meditative exercise would be to shut yourself into a dark room with no other sound and play these two sonatas back to back and listen to them, really listen. You can decide for yourself.

Mozart’s is precisely done, nearly perfect, light and made for a great and capable piano artist. Beethoven’s is a good work as well, but it a bit chaotic, surprising and strangely emotional. Mozarts will leave you feeling uplifted and inspired, but Beethoven’s might make you look to the heavens and weep.

Anyway this young man played well, a few people wiped tears from their eyes. The way the music modulates between minor and major chords is nothing less than miraculous. It lifts the soul, and in some strange way pulls at you in a way that cannot be described. It feels like a complete statement, rounded out in some profound way. If you have ever heard someone say that music has a voice or speaks to you, then this is the composition to listen to.

Guy Reams

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2 years ago


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