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Author Topic: Easiest and Hardest Beethoven Sonatas?  (Read 25804 times)
j.s. bach the 534th
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« on: October 29, 2008, 02:55:59 AM »

Which of Beethoven's Sonatas do you think is the easiest, and which do you think is the hardest? I am not really familiar with the sonatas, so I cannot answer this question.
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lostinidlewonder
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« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2008, 03:09:25 AM »

This should be under your STUPID QUESTION thread Wink
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argerichfan
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« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2008, 03:31:27 AM »

It will be interesting to read the replies, but I'll bite first...

Aside from the Op. 49 sonatas -of which there is seldom any argument that they're the easiest of the lot- the Op. 13, 14 #1 & 2, 79 and possibly 90, though the latter is generally thought to be much harder than it looks.  I've read through it and didn't find it all that difficult, but I've never formally studied it.

The hardest?  This is where the going gets rather tough and also where the arguments arise.

Let me just say that the final sonata I studied at uni was the Op. 53 (Waldstein), and it was the hardest work I ever attempted and ultimately performed in recital.  To play it correctly and musically up to speed is a killer exercise in intellectuality and endurance.  Don't ever, ever underestimate its difficulties.

The last group of sonatas (those from Op. 101 through 111) are historically considered the hardest with the Op. 106 grabbing the spotlight.  One can understand the rarified realms these sonatas inhabit, but no less than Charles Rosen (who has written brilliantly about Beethoven) has made a case that the Op. 57 (Appassionata) is as hard as the Op. 106.  

He's played them all, I haven't.  Several years back I asked a pianist who had played and performed all the Beethoven sonatas if he thought that were true.  He thought for a moment, then said 'yes, one could make a case for that.'

So make of it what you will.  Frankly, no Beethoven is easy.  There are just too many musical and technical demands at every juncture.  The previous Beethoven I studied to the Op. 53 -Op. 27 #1- was a bloody challenge, and there were things there that I never encountered in my subsequent study of the Op. 53.
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richard black
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« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2008, 12:55:25 PM »

I've got an old copy of the Liszt edition of the sonatas, arranged in order of difficulty. So apparently the easiest is Op.49 no. 2 and the hardest the Hammerklavier, Op. 106. Frankly I doubt many would argue with those two, but the rest of the order is a bit open to discussion!
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scottmcc
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« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2008, 02:07:52 PM »

Which of Beethoven's Sonatas do you think is the easiest, and which do you think is the hardest? I am not really familiar with the sonatas, so I cannot answer this question.

if you are interested in the beethoven sonatas, google "Schiff guardian UK" and you will find a link to a free lecture series on all 32 of them by Andras Schiff.  each lecture is about 30 min (longer for a few of the bigger works) and you can learn a huge amount for free.  you can even download them to your ipod if you so desire.
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healdie
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« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2008, 11:19:20 AM »

I am currently learning the No. 19 in G Minor one even though it is ones of the easiest it still is no walk in the park the detail still makes it hard to perform convincinly
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Florestan
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« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2008, 11:07:14 AM »

Which of Beethoven's Sonatas do you think is the easiest, and which do you think is the hardest? I am not really familiar with the sonatas, so I cannot answer this question.

THe two easy sonata's
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communist
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« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2008, 01:06:01 PM »

easiest op.49  no.2, hardest op.106 " hammer klavier "
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ahinton
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« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2008, 07:09:28 PM »

easiest op.49  no.2, hardest op.106 " hammer klavier "
As Richard Black observed a little while ago and Franz Liszt deduced rather earlier than that...

Best,

Alistair
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thalbergmad
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« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2008, 09:29:18 PM »

Are you sure Richard did not observe it before Liszt?
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« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2008, 10:23:53 PM »

Are you sure Richard did not observe it before Liszt?
As far as it possible for me to be certain of this, yes, I am. Liszt was not short on wisdom. Nor is Richard. The latter fact in no wise undermines Richard just because he happens to have been born quite some time after the death of Liszt.

Beszt,

ALisztair
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« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2008, 11:59:43 AM »


Beszt,

ALisztair

I think Ahinton was trying to write with a French accent
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« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2008, 07:49:40 AM »

It will be interesting to read the replies, but I'll bite first...

Aside from the Op. 49 sonatas -of which there is seldom any argument that they're the easiest of the lot- the Op. 13, 14 #1 & 2, 79 and possibly 90, though the latter is generally thought to be much harder than it looks.  I've read through it and didn't find it all that difficult, but I've never formally studied it.

The hardest?  This is where the going gets rather tough and also where the arguments arise.

Let me just say that the final sonata I studied at uni was the Op. 53 (Waldstein), and it was the hardest work I ever attempted and ultimately performed in recital.  To play it correctly and musically up to speed is a killer exercise in intellectuality and endurance.  Don't ever, ever underestimate its difficulties.

The last group of sonatas (those from Op. 101 through 111) are historically considered the hardest with the Op. 106 grabbing the spotlight.  One can understand the rarified realms these sonatas inhabit, but no less than Charles Rosen (who has written brilliantly about Beethoven) has made a case that the Op. 57 (Appassionata) is as hard as the Op. 106.  

He's played them all, I haven't.  Several years back I asked a pianist who had played and performed all the Beethoven sonatas if he thought that were true.  He thought for a moment, then said 'yes, one could make a case for that.'

So make of it what you will.  Frankly, no Beethoven is easy.  There are just too many musical and technical demands at every juncture.  The previous Beethoven I studied to the Op. 53 -Op. 27 #1- was a bloody challenge, and there were things there that I never encountered in my subsequent study of the Op. 53.

All Beethoven sonatas are difficult, if you want to play them well. Perhaps, op. 49 are the only ones that I can say are easy.

Now I have a question, which is going to digress from the original topic.

I have played the first movt of Waldstein more than 15 years ago, then learned the 2nd/3rd movt. about seven years ago.

Indeed, the entire Waldstein is very difficult.

And my question is: I am planning on entering a competition next year, and I need to play a classical sonata. The waldstein seems to be good candidate since, as I already said, I played the whole thing and am very familiar with it. But still, I must say that all 3 movts are very difficult. (The 1st is extremely tough, but I have performed and competed in competitions and know that I can do fine. But then, the 3rd...full of challenges...yes, I played it through, but I think there're lots of room for improvement, and some of those improvments seem to be impossible to bring about...I mean, the challenges with trills everywhere, with how the Left/right hands should go together so to sound satisfactory, in a definite demand of an extremely good quality of touch, and with the big section before "Prestisimo", etc, etc...

Because of the concern I have for a satisfactory performance of the Waldstein, I started looking around for other classical sonata. I find Haydn's C Major Hob. 50. You know that light-hearted 1st/3rd movt, with a gorgeous 2nd movt??

I just want to hear people's opinion. Do you think I should work on the Haydn instead of the Waldstein for the competition? I know the Haydn should also have its challenges. But they seem more manageable. Of course, i don't think the Haydn is "easy", but considering that I don't have a teacher now to work with me in polishing the 3rd movt of Waldstein or giving me advice for the overall sonata, the Haydn seems to be something I have enough experience to make it sound very good on my own, but the Waldstein...I don't know. The only advantage of the waldstein, is I am familiar with it--I know the 1st movt so well that I won a scholarship for it, but that was 15 years ago.   

So, what do you think?
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jabbz
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« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2008, 01:17:44 AM »

I'm not sure I consider middle-period Beethoven to be 'classical', but I can forgive the labelling. I'm not familiar with the Haydn, but as you said, I suspect it'd be less of a monster than op.53. If you have any doubts about op.53 at all, I say go for the Haydn.
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twiltot
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« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2009, 04:04:01 PM »

op.49 no.2 easiest...others are all hard...Cheesy    playing them musically doubles it,giving the right feeling, passion....
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liordavid
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« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2010, 09:59:53 PM »

Opus 49 is deffinetly the easiest. hardest is  Hammerklavier in my opinion
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beethoven ii
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« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2010, 02:48:31 AM »

I have learned many of Beethoven sonatas and I have read somewhere that Beethoven made his sonatas more difficult as he got older, the reason for this is because he hated other pianist and if would be difficult for them to play his work. The easiest Beethoven sonatas I think would be sonata 2 or even 14. Even through the mvt 3 of the 'moonlight' may sound difficult all it really is is arpeggios, the hardest could be last mvt of hammerklavier.

Sonata 21, 23 may sound difficult but it really depends how strong you are in in what areas technically..
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wert718
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« Reply #17 on: July 23, 2010, 03:18:00 PM »

easiest op.49  no.2, hardest op.106 " hammer klavier "

I agree
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John 3:16
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« Reply #18 on: December 02, 2010, 04:41:43 PM »

The hardest is the Hammerclavier. Nobody could play it when Beethoven published it. Even Liszt was challenged by its complexity.

There is no such thing as an easy beethoven sonata. Some are harder then others but all are challenging to play in one way or another. That is why Beethoven's contemporaries despised him; the music was tougher than anyone expected.

Hope this helps
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orangesodaking
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« Reply #19 on: December 10, 2010, 08:34:58 PM »

The WoO's may be easier than the Op. 49's, but I'd say 106 is the hardest, with the other 100's close by.
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richterfan1
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« Reply #20 on: June 07, 2011, 12:21:32 PM »

Hamerklavier, Waldstein, Appasionata - hardest
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djealnla
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« Reply #21 on: June 09, 2011, 04:10:46 AM »

Hamerklavier

Appasionata

I've heard (of) these sonatas by Beethoven.
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ahinton
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« Reply #22 on: June 09, 2011, 03:42:53 PM »

I've heard (of) these sonatas by Beethoven.
Me, too; I can only surmise that they may be the hardest ones to type or spell.

Best,

Alistair
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« Reply #23 on: October 16, 2011, 09:24:50 AM »

Easy question.
easiest: op 49 no 2
hardest: op 106
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felipe717
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« Reply #24 on: January 23, 2012, 10:40:32 PM »

The easiest is, of course, the Piano Sonata No.20, Op.49 No.2, in G major - Leichte Sonata.
The hardest of all is the Piano Sonata No.29, Op.106, in Bb major - Hammerklavier.

See this list of the sonatas, organised by difficult (made by bulow/lebert). The first one is the easiest and the last one is the hardest.

   1. Piano Sonata No.20 in G, Op.49 No.2 ("Leichte Sonata")
   2. Piano Sonata No.19 in G minor, Op.49 No.1 ("Leichte Sonata")
   3. Piano Sonata No.25 in G, Op.79 ("Cuckoo")
   4. Piano Sonata No.9 in E, Op.14 No.1
   5. Piano Sonata No.10 in G, Op.14 No.2
   6. Piano Sonata No.1 in F minor, Op.2 No.1 ("Little Appassionata")
   7. Piano Sonata No.5 in C minor, Op.10 No.1 ("Little Pathétique")
   8. Piano Sonata No.8 in C minor, Op.13 ("Pathétique")
   9. Piano Sonata No.7 in D, Op.10 No.3
  10. Piano Sonata No.6 in F, Op.10 No.2
  11. Piano Sonata No.15 in D, Op.28 ("Pastorale")
  12. Piano Sonata No.3 in C, Op.2 No.3 ("Little Waldstein")
  13. Piano Sonata No.12 in Ab, Op.26 ("Funeral March")
  14. Piano Sonata No.18 in Eb, Op.31 No.3 ("The Hunt")
  15. Piano Sonata No.11 in Bb, Op.22
  16. Piano Sonata No.4 in Eb, Op.7 ("Grand Sonata")
  17. Piano Sonata No.14 in C♯ minor, Op.27 No.2 ("Moonlight")
  18. Piano Sonata No.13 in Eb, Op.27 No.1 ("Quasi una fantasia")
  19. Piano Sonata No.17 in D minor, Op.31 No.2 ("The Tempest")
  20. Piano Sonata No.2 in A, Op.2 No.2
  21. Piano Sonata No.22 in F, Op.54
  22. Piano Sonata No.24 in F♯, Op.78 ("A Thérèse")
  23. Piano Sonata No.27 in E minor, Op.90
  24. Piano Sonata No.26 in Eb, Op.81a ("Les adieux")
  25. Piano Sonata No.16 in G, Op.31 No.1
  26. Piano Sonata No.21 in C, Op.53 ("Waldstein")
  27. Piano Sonata No.23 in F minor, Op.57 ("Appassionata")
  28. Piano Sonata No.28 in A, Op.101
  29. Piano Sonata No.32 in C minor, Op.111
  30. Piano Sonata No.31 in Ab, Op.110
  31. Piano Sonata No.30 in E, Op.109
  32. Piano Sonata No.29 in Bb, Op.106 ("Hammerklavier")


I think that there isn't an "easy" Beethoven Sonata. Of course, there are some sonatas that aren't too difficult - for some people. The "easiest" should be consider the "less difficult". I can play Op.49 No.2, and I took a long time to do it. Now, I think it very easy, but I think that all 32 Sonatas are really, really difficult. Beethoven, once, said: "The genius is composed of 2% of talent and 98% of persevering application". If you really apply yourself, even Hammerklavier will be easy. But, until there, any of the sonatas will be difficult.
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pianoplayjl
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« Reply #25 on: January 23, 2012, 11:53:32 PM »

The easiest is, of course, the Piano Sonata No.20, Op.49 No.2, in G major - Leichte Sonata.
The hardest of all is the Piano Sonata No.29, Op.106, in Bb major - Hammerklavier.

See this list of the sonatas, organised by difficult (made by bulow/lebert). The first one is the easiest and the last one is the hardest.

   1. Piano Sonata No.20 in G, Op.49 No.2 ("Leichte Sonata")
   2. Piano Sonata No.19 in G minor, Op.49 No.1 ("Leichte Sonata")
   3. Piano Sonata No.25 in G, Op.79 ("Cuckoo")
   4. Piano Sonata No.9 in E, Op.14 No.1
   5. Piano Sonata No.10 in G, Op.14 No.2
   6. Piano Sonata No.1 in F minor, Op.2 No.1 ("Little Appassionata")
   7. Piano Sonata No.5 in C minor, Op.10 No.1 ("Little Pathétique")
   8. Piano Sonata No.8 in C minor, Op.13 ("Pathétique")
   9. Piano Sonata No.7 in D, Op.10 No.3
  10. Piano Sonata No.6 in F, Op.10 No.2
  11. Piano Sonata No.15 in D, Op.28 ("Pastorale")
  12. Piano Sonata No.3 in C, Op.2 No.3 ("Little Waldstein")
  13. Piano Sonata No.12 in Ab, Op.26 ("Funeral March")
  14. Piano Sonata No.18 in Eb, Op.31 No.3 ("The Hunt")
  15. Piano Sonata No.11 in Bb, Op.22
  16. Piano Sonata No.4 in Eb, Op.7 ("Grand Sonata")
  17. Piano Sonata No.14 in C♯ minor, Op.27 No.2 ("Moonlight")
  18. Piano Sonata No.13 in Eb, Op.27 No.1 ("Quasi una fantasia")
  19. Piano Sonata No.17 in D minor, Op.31 No.2 ("The Tempest")
  20. Piano Sonata No.2 in A, Op.2 No.2
  21. Piano Sonata No.22 in F, Op.54
  22. Piano Sonata No.24 in F♯, Op.78 ("A Thérèse")
  23. Piano Sonata No.27 in E minor, Op.90
  24. Piano Sonata No.26 in Eb, Op.81a ("Les adieux")
  25. Piano Sonata No.16 in G, Op.31 No.1
  26. Piano Sonata No.21 in C, Op.53 ("Waldstein")
  27. Piano Sonata No.23 in F minor, Op.57 ("Appassionata")
  28. Piano Sonata No.28 in A, Op.101
  29. Piano Sonata No.32 in C minor, Op.111
  30. Piano Sonata No.31 in Ab, Op.110
  31. Piano Sonata No.30 in E, Op.109
  32. Piano Sonata No.29 in Bb, Op.106 ("Hammerklavier")


I think that there isn't an "easy" Beethoven Sonata. Of course, there are some sonatas that aren't too difficult - for some people. The "easiest" should be consider the "less difficult". I can play Op.49 No.2, and I took a long time to do it. Now, I think it very easy, but I think that all 32 Sonatas are really, really difficult. Beethoven, once, said: "The genius is composed of 2% of talent and 98% of persevering application". If you really apply yourself, even Hammerklavier will be easy. But, until there, any of the sonatas will be difficult.

Did you find this list from the Schirmer's edition edited by Bulow? A few months ago I borrowed a Schirmer's Beethoven's sonata book from a sheet music library and I remembered the list was so comprehensive. I find your list to be quite similar to what I saw in Schirmer. The Diabelli variations must be down there on the list somewhere. I really think that op111 should be the second hardest after Hammerklavier.

JL
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« Reply #26 on: July 16, 2014, 01:16:08 PM »

Hi Richard! I have seen that you have a copy of the Liszt edition of the Beethoven Sonatas. Is it good? Are there good fingerings? What publisher has published it? And do you know where you can buy it?
Thank you on advance
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