Week 11 – Beethoven’s Blog

Posted on August, 12th 2021

Piano Sonata No 21 in C Major, Opus 53, the Waldstein 

As we continue to explore Beethoven’s life of music, let’s consider his Piano Sonata No 21 in C Major, Opus 53, known as the Waldstein. This monumental piece stands firmly in his great middle period. It is very long and is very difficult and arduous to perform. There are moments of great agitation and rhythmic turmoil, juxtaposed with periods of beauty and tenderness. Listen to the sometimes odd, strange harmonic relationships. There is such an exquisite transition from the second to the third movement, so wonderful that a friend of mine uses it as her ringtone! It is a sonata that every music lover should know! Listen to this beautiful performance by Daniel Barenboim.

I thought it would be interesting for you to hear what goes into musical performance preparation at the highest level. Below you’ll find links to masterclasses given to two extraordinary pianists by two musical stars, Andras Schiff and Daniel Barenboim. Schiff is acknowledged to be a great pianist and musical thinker. His series of lectures on the Beethoven sonatas are legendary. Barenboim’s career as a pianist, conductor, and collaborator is staggering in its accomplishments. Please note the radically different approaches the two men take in getting their musical points of view across. There is no right or wrong. You will see that high levels of playing open one up to more scrutiny. The better you get, the harder you must work. It’s endless, the search for insight and something like perfection. I hope you’ll have the patience to listen to it all. There is so much to learn here about the musical minds of two great musicians.

Andras Schiff Masterclass on Waldstein Sonata

Daniel Barenboim Masterclass on Waldstein Sonata