Early Beethoven

I’m only 21 pieces in so far, so I will need to pick up the pace to make it through all 194 pieces with opus number this year. Right now, I’m listening to the Violin Sonata No. 1 in D Major, Op. 12 number 1, and just came across my first “favorite moment” in these early pieces. It’s a cadential figure that happens in the first movement, at the end of the second theme.

Beethoven Op. 12 No. 1, first movement

From what I can recall, I first heard this piece in a performance in Von Kuster Hall at UWO, around 1987 or 1988. This moment is striking, and you can hear why it would appeal to someone who has played rock guitar. Even better than a power chord!

Was Brahms Quoting Beethoven?

I was listening to the WQXR broadcast of the Vienna Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall last night. It was an all Brahms program: The Academic Festival Overture, The Haydn Variations, and the first symphony. I grabbed my trusty old Dover score and followed along for the performance of the symphony. I was not paying too close attention, but even so, something leaped out at me at the start of the second movement. The opening theme begins with a striking similarity to the first theme of Beethoven’s sixth symphony. I grabbed my Beethoven score, and sure enough, the first seven notes of both themes are the same. The Brahms is in E Major, the Beethoven is in F major, so the Brahms is naturally written a semitone lower. Both themes are given to the first violins. The rhythms and tempo are different.

Brahms quoting Beethoven

I’m wondering if this was a purposeful quote, or just a coincidence. Also makes me wonder if there are any other Easter eggs in “Beethoven’s 10th?”

Beethoven Listening Project

Nothing like a new year to start a new project! One of mine for 2018 is to listen to all of the works of Ludwig van Beethoven, from start to finish. How would you like to join me? We’re just getting started with the Piano Trio in Eb Major, Op. 1 No. 1.