You can now download our hauntingly beautiful piano solo, Moonlight Sonata. This eminently memorable classic from the pen of Ludwig Van Beethoven has been a favorite of pianists and audiences alike. Written in 1801, it was extremely popular in Beethoven’s day – so much so that the composer wondered aloud if he hadn’t written anything better than this! The name “Moonlight” was coined by a German music critic some time after Beethoven’s death, and it was rumored to have been composed for one of his 17 year old students with whom he was ‘in love’. Others say it was written when he visited Lake Balaton in Hungary.
As with Beethoven’s other piano sonatas, there are three movements; most would not recognize the other two movements of this well known Sonata without the “Adagio Sostenuto”, the familiar and tender movement heard so often. However, one of the other two movements would make a nice gently upbeat prelude number, and I may add it to our classic preludes album in the future. Some critics felt it lacked merit and was so short that it must have simply been a ‘bridge’ to get to the tumultuous third movement.
The Moonlight Sonata, according to the well know composer Hector Berlioz, is “one of those poems that human language does not know how to qualify.”
I have a couple of interesting side notes for pianists and others interested enough to read on. First, my piano teacher for the 9th-12th grade was Alexander Mlynarski from Seattle, Washington, who was half Polish and half Jewish. Also in my piano teacher ‘lineage’ were Stojowski and Paderewski; indeed my teacher informed me that many generations back, my great great great great great grandteacher was Beethoven!
Secondly, there is an interesting rhythmic issue throughout this piece – if played exactly as written, the second note of the melody, which occurs at the end of the 5th bar, would happen extremely close to the preceding note, the third note of the triplet, just before it. However, in practice, most pianists create more space between these two notes; this happens repeatedly throughout this movement. Mr. Mlynarski was insistent that I play it correctly, not as it was commonly (mis)interpreted – but alas, I have fallen into the sinful habit of playing it as sounds more sonorous to my ear – the way it is commonly played. At the time, I didn’t think to ask him if he was sure that was the way Beethoven intended for the piece to be played, but as the years have gone by I have wondered on many occasions what the composer was thinking, and wished I could ask him.