Week 8 – Beethoven’s Blog

Posted on August, 12th 2021

Beethoven’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in C minor Opus 37

As you now know, Beethoven first made his way into musical Vienna as a pianist and then a composer. He wrote 32 piano sonatas; many chamber music pieces that included keyboard, and 5 piano concertos, many of which he used to showcase his extraordinary pianistic prowess.

Shortly after the Heiligenstadt Testimony, acknowledging his deafness and despair, Beethoven wrote the wonderfully powerful and beautiful Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in C minor Opus 37. C minor was a very important key for our hero. Think of the 7th violin sonata, Coriolanus Overture, the Opus 9 #3 string trio, and of course the monumental 5th symphony.

Listen to the contrast of themes in the first movement. How angular is the beginning. Heed the rhythmic underpinning of quarter note, eight rest, eighth note through much of the first movement. Then the lovely gentle second theme. We’ve come to learn that this is who Beethoven was. Sometimes angry and bitter but caring and loving underneath. This is what I always hear. Then the second movement! Following the sometimes raucous c minor first movement comes this beautiful E Major. Such gentle and exquisite contrast. How wonderful. The concerto closes with a c minor rondo. Note that the cadenzas are Beethoven’s own. They require stunning virtuosity. He wrote them for himself. Show off!!

Included below you’ll find two links, one that shows the music (solo part with piano reduction of the orchestra) and one that shows the musicians. Enjoy!