Week 29 – Beethoven’s Blog

Posted on August, 13th 2021

Beethoven’s great sonata for piano in Eb Major Opus 81a “les adieux” was written on the departure from Vienna of the Archduke Rudolph, one of his dearest friends. The publisher, Breitkopf and Haertel came out with a French edition, thus the nickname. Beethoven had titled it in German “Lebewohl” a much more intimate expression than the generic French word. The opening three notes follow the shape of the words in both languages however. It is one of my favorites as it is for many. It has some very interesting structural elements.

This is an excellent time to introduce to all of you the great Hungarian pianist, Andras Schiff, who can explain them better than I. Not only is he a beautiful player, but an extraordinary teacher and lecturer on music. One of his great accomplishments is a series of lectures on the Beethoven piano sonatas, one for each of the 32 masterpieces. They are grounded in his profound experience with them as he has performed the complete cycle of sonatas 27 times!! He is a great communicator who has saturated himself, not only with music, but with art, literature, and the great thoughts of mankind. Therefore, this week, I’m including a link to his talk on Beethoven’s Sonata Opus 81a in Eb “les adieux”. I’m sure you’ll be delighted and perhaps encouraged to explore some of his others. May I suggest Opus 13 “Pathetique”, Opus 27#2 “Moonlight” to start.

Andras Schiff lecture on Beethoven Opus 81a

Barenboim plays Beethoven Sonata in Eb Major Opus 81a “les adieux”