Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata 17 (The Tempest)
in D Minor, Op. 31 No. 2

This gripping and dramatic work sees Beethoven experimenting with innovations of form, harmony, and technique.

ID: 29
Ludwig van Beethoven - Sonatas:

Sonata 17 (The Tempest)
Op. 31 No. 2

Key: D Minor
Year: 1802
Level: 8+
Period: Classical
piano sheet music Piano score: PS Urtext Download
piano sheet music Piano score: Ruthardt edition Download
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The Shakespearean Sonata?

The Sonata No. 17 in d minor, often nicknamed “The Tempest”, is probably the most famous of the three sonatas published as Op. 31. Gripping and dramatic, it sees Beethoven experimenting with innovations of form, harmony, pedal, and dissonance.

The tempestuous first movement is in sonata form and demonstrates many features unusual for the time. Highlights include a slow, tonally ambiguous introduction beginning on a mysterious, arpeggiated dominant chord in first inversion, anxious groups of quick, slurred eighth notes, a highly dramatic development section, and a recitative at the beginning of the recapitulation which replaces the expected return of most of the opening material, and where the pedal must be held down continuously, creating plaintive dissonances.

The second and third movements are more traditional. The beginning of the second movement recalls the beginning of the first by opening with an arpeggiated chord in the same register, which this time leads to a slow and peaceful, almost pastoral movement. The final movement is again in sonata form and famed for its ghostlike and anxious main theme, contrasted with dramatic outbursts, an unusually long and improvisatory development section, and a coda extensive enough to function as a second development section before bringing the piece to a surprisingly quiet close.


The Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor was composed in 1801–02 and published together with his sonatas Nos. 16 and 18 as Op. 31 in 1803, marking the last time he grouped several sonatas under one opus number. In many ways, these sonatas highlight the beginning of Beethoven’s transition into his “Middle Period” compositional style (ca. 1802-1812), seeing him experiment with new and innovative ideas, both in terms of musical style and in his use of the sonata form. The Sonata’s nickname comes from early Beethoven biographer Anton Shindler's claim that Beethoven told him to read Shakespeare's “The Tempest” to understand how to interpret the sonata; unfortunately, Shindler’s reliability as a narrator has been heavily questioned in recent years.

Forum posts about this piece:

College Auditons by sethino
I am planning on auditioning for GGS and Juillard this year and need some help finding pieces that will make an impression. Here are my plans so far: Bach- Prelude and Fugue No. 7 in E-Flat...

bbc young- TEMPEST or WALDSTEIN by slater0
hey. i was wondering what would be a better choice for me to play in BBC young musician round. waldstein or tempest sonata (beethoven). my current/ past beethoven pieces are sonata op 2 no 2, op 13, op 22, op...

Repertoire help by png100
Hi everyone, I wanted some help/recommendations so that I can have a balanced repertoire for competitions. I am 17 and have 11 years of piano experience, and I most recently have been working on...

Left hand by softbn
Hello. When you’re learning a new piece and you work on the dynamics do you usually think about the right hand and the left hand just naturally follows what the right hand does ( left automatically goes...

Rubato in Beethoven pieces by softbn
Hello. Do pianists use rubato in Beethoven pieces? I’m practicing the 3rd movement of tempest and just wondering. Same with pedal I try not to use too much what about you...

Rondo Pathétique (3rd Movement) or Tempest sonata 3rd Movement by fredchopin
Hello Everybody, I would like to commence either of the 3rd movements of my 2 favourite sonatas (Pathetique and Tempest). I have played revolutionary etude, black key etude, Fantaisie impromptu, and...

About the repertoire of LRSM piano exam by suetlai
Dear all, I had my ATCL 5 years ago and I would like to have my Licentiate diploma next year (maybe April). I have just planned the initial repertoire for the exam. May I ask what do you think...

Another LTCL Program advice request! ;) by cwhi7345
Hello all, I am (seriously) pondering taking the next 12-18 months to prepare for my ATCL. I did my ATCL prior to doing my music degree and studied a range of LTCL/LRSM repertoire whilst doing my...

Beethoven: Sonata No. 17 by mike5710
Hi everyone! This is my first post on this site, but I am finding it(the site) very promising so far. I recently heard this piece (not for the first time), and enjoyed it a lot more than before....

Pedaling and Cross overs for Beethoven Sonatas by didi100
I was wondering what most other pianists are doing as far as pedaling. I was instructed by one of my teachers that pedaling should not be used when I played the Tempest Sonata. It just doesn't sound very...

Request for suggestions on my LTCL exam (Trinity UK) piano recital programme by nataliechau
I have finished my ATCL, and recently I am preparing for my LTCL exam. I have decided to play three pieces, but I’m not sure whether the programme will be balanced. For the 37-43 minutes performance, I...

Potential Audition Repertoire by abel2
I'm thinking about doing the first movement of the Tempest sonata for my sonata. That's basically all I have finalized, but I know I'll have to do a P/F, and an etude would look good, maybe Liszt...

Tempest Sonata First Movement by maddenleaman
Looking at the score will make answering my question much easier, so I am just using this edition as a reference:[link removed by moderator] Is it considered cheating to do all the triplets from...

Beethoven's Sonata's by bachapprentice
Probably one of the greatest Sonata performances has to be Glenn Goulds Sonata Op. 31 suite 2. Check out this video.

tempest movt. 3 question by fiasco
On the seventh page of Beethoven's Tempest 3rd movt, the repeating trill in RH is marked B flat - C, with the thumb hitting fourth note A.  Is that C sharp or natural?  The two C's below it...

Moonlight vs. The Tempest by sakhmet
Ok, I have this competition coming up in seven months and I am unsure as to what sonata to learn.  I have to learn either the first or last movement of one sonata and its a toss up between the third...

Beethoven Pastorale vs storm Sonata by fredo2
Hi guys, some time ago i played the storm sonata, but i pretty much learnded it on my own, without teacher. And now i started to play the Pastorale, and am wondering which one is more difficult to...

Piano sheet music and recordings. This piece is from Sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven: Sonata 17 (The Tempest) Op. 31 No. 2 in D Minor (published in 1802) . Level 8+, Period: Classical
Sonata 17 (The Tempest) Op. 31 No. 2 in D Minor, by the classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven. This piano piece was initially published in the year 1802 and is included in Sonatas by Beethoven.