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Beethoven: Sonata 8 (Pathétique) Op. 13 in C Minor

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Ludwig van Beethoven - Sonatas :
Sonata 8 (Pathétique), Op. 13
Sonata 8 (Pathétique) Op. 13  in C Minor by Beethoven piano sheet music
Key: C Minor Year: 1798
Level: 8+ Period: Classical
piano sheet music Piano score: PS Urtext (844 kB)
piano sheet music Piano score: Ruthardt edition (3376 kB)

The start of a new piano era

Beethoven’s eighth piano sonata, in c minor, is one of the few works that the composer himself named, officially calling it Grande sonate pathétique. It is one of the first sonatas where Beethoven’s unique temperament and his revolutionary approach to the piano becomes truly evident. The first, dramatic and almost aggressive movement starts with a massive, loud c minor chord that must have come as a shock to contemporary listeners. Before long, the slow introductory section gives way to a fast and explosive rising staccato motif. A third theme, which returns slightly transformed in the last movement of the sonata, has the right hand jumping back and forth from treble to bass.

The second movement in A-flat major, far more familiar to the casual listener, features a beautiful cantabile melody, one of Beethoven’s most beloved creations. This Adagio certainly makes a nice soothing contrast to the violence of the first movement.

The third movement is a rondo and returns to a faster tempo. It contains elements of the first two movements, thereby tying the entire sonata together in a way that represents a significant development in the history of the piano sonata. Although it is the second movement that most listeners will remember, the full effect of this amazing work is revealed only when it is considered as a whole. It is also interesting to note that there are several similarities between the Pathétique Sonata and Mozart’s c minor sonata K. 457. For instance, the main theme of the slow movement of the Pathétique sounds remarkably similar to a theme in the slow movement of the Mozart sonata.

Posts in the piano forum about this piece by :

smiley Sonata Pathetique Op. 13, No. 1 by Bethoveen
April 10, 2002, 06:10:41 AM by sisterjenche

I am learning the first movement of this Sonata and i just wanted to know if anyone has any advice for this particular piece.  Please post something you think might be helpful for me.  I would greatly appreciate it. Kiss

xx Having problems on 1st movement of Pathetique
November 18, 2002, 12:29:07 AM by NetherMagic

Hi everyone, i'm 14 and i've been playin' piano for a few years and right now I'm practising Beethoven's Grande Sonate Pathétique 1st Movement.  Starting from the 93rd bar, where you have to use your thumb and index fingers to keep the rhythm while doing a crescendo with the melody with your pinkies, I'm having a great deal of difficulty to maintain the clarity of the thumbs and index fingers and my pinkies are always for some reason reluctant to come back up after playing a note... they're like lazy or something

Does anyone have any suggestions to how I might fix this finger problem?  I'm thinking it might be my technique, since I haven't been playing piano for THAT long and I'm already playing this piece for my ARCT Performance Cert

And one more question, does anyone have any tips to play good during an examination?  Because for the past few examinations I keep on getting low marks because as soon as I enter that room I get very very nervous and my hands become all cold and numb, which makes it almost uncontrollable and making me play really bad and getting a low mark (I still managed to pass every one of them phew)

Thanks.  Grin

xx Pathetique
April 28, 2003, 02:17:41 AM by xpletus

I am learning the first movement of this sonata and I am having difficulty in general with pedaling for the grave introduction, but particularly with the runs. How much pedal should I use? Also in the very begining of the part with tremolos in the left hand I can't get the right hand fast enough, my fingers feel like they get tangled halfway through it, has anyone had this problem before?

xx Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata
August 19, 2003, 02:14:38 AM by liszmaninopin

How difficult is the full Pathetique sonata when compared with other Beethoven sonatas?  I would like to learn another Beethoven one, and am looking for a more challenging one than Pathetique.  I have been looking especially at the Hammerklavier.

xx Beethoven Pathetique
September 24, 2003, 04:18:33 AM by guitarwolf

My question is why does the player play the left hand the way he does on several recordings for the 2nd page?it only shows u hitting the C notes in pairs but he hits em about 4 times a bar. Is there something I am missing it has me really confused, plz someone help me out. I am talking about all the bars after the first, since it shows u to hit it 4 times there, the rest only 2.

xx Pathetique - technical prob
February 05, 2004, 10:33:00 PM by Snuffel

In the first movement of Beethoven's Op13 Sonata I am having trouble with the tremalo octaves in the left hand, The basic problem is fatigue, during the repeat I find my arm starts to tense up and I loose the articulation. Does anyone have any tips / exercises I can use to keep my arm relaxed?

xx Beethoven - Sonate Pathétique
June 05, 2004, 02:59:02 PM by Corleone

I'm Studying the beethoven sonate pathétique. Would you constantly use te pedal, or not?
Without the pedal it sounds so dry and boring, with the use of the pedal it's much powerful and bright.

thumbup pathetiqe,chopin etude and debussy
August 07, 2004, 08:03:58 PM by paris

if someone can give me advice about this things

beethoven-pathetique- 1.movement-tremolo in left hand and pedaling in grave, and how to keep rhytm

debussy-jardins sous la pluie-how to make pp on begining,and some exercises for thrills

chopin-etude op.10 n.1- how to get fast and keep clearnes

and if someone knows how to concentrate and avoid fear before performing concert? thanx

xx Pathetique sonata SECOND movement, voices.
September 19, 2004, 06:58:47 AM by mosis

I'm sure you're all sick of seeing topics asking for help on the first movement. Not to worry, I have no problem at all with the first movement. It's now the third movement that's kicking my ass.

So I thought that the FIRST movement was difficult... I'm blazing right through it, though. My new teacher decided that we should start the second as well. NOW I'm getting my ass kicked.

He assigned the A section to me two weeks ago, and I learned it to what I thought was a pretty good standard. It turns out that that wasn't the case. He showed me how to better bring out the top voice; use my elbow, and push into the key, and then swing my hand back to get the pianissimo alto voice.

So I'm trying this, and I'm absolutely sucking. Everything is WAY too loud, I can't get the chords even at all, and it just feels really awkward. I don't want to go back to him ANOTHER week still stuck and sucking on the same section, so any advice will be appreciated.

Also, going back to the issue I have about getting the chords even, my biggest problem, surprisingly, in the first movement is the Grave sections. I can't get the chords as quiet as they should be, nor as even. My teacher told me that I should keep my fingers tense, but not my upper arm, so that the weight is distributed evenly. I don't know how to do this, though, and my tense left hand is giving me even chords, but they're not as quiet and I'm screwing up the right hand along with this. My teacher was extremely impressed with my performance of this last week, and the tips he gave me are screwing up stuff in the process of fixing others. Help, please!

xx beethoven sonata op.7 comparing with pathetique
October 08, 2004, 07:21:01 PM by paris


yesterday my teacher gave me this amazing sonata. i have done the pathetique, which was also nice, but overplayed to much. it really hard to be interesting with pathetique, because there are so many versions of it...
i looked on bernhard and h-moll rank list (from easiest to hardest sonata) , and i was quite suprised, because you put op.7 harder than pathetique. personally, i find pathetique much harder, because of those octaves on begining allegro (maybe because i have very big hand and big clumsy thumb), and all 1st movement is, tricky...don't know how to explain. Smiley

i was wondering-why some pieces easily become overplayed (like pathetique, minute waltz, moonlight sonata...) and the others, which are also beautiful don't?

i have feeling that is sonata op.7 rarely played, what do you think? have you played it? did you enjoy it playing?


xx pathetique
October 31, 2004, 06:46:19 PM by raidogebodagaz

im learning the pathetique sonata and i cant seem to get the chromatic scale fast enough....any suggestions? 

xx Pathetique....wow I only heard it for the first time yesterday
November 03, 2004, 01:14:57 AM by Spatula

Well whadda know?  Everyone on this forum (exaggeration) seems to have said something about the Pathetique (what a weird name for a song....the pathetic song lol ) but anyways...

Yesterday was my first time hearing that ... and I recognized the 2nd movement ... but the 3rd seemed kinda like the tempest I suppose...

I want to do this piece for grade 10 but its probably overplayed and overkilled like the Fur Elise...is it? 

xx Pathetique sonata
February 11, 2005, 10:04:33 PM by proustlydemon

I wanted to try to get as much information on the Beethoven Pathetique sonata as I could before I started working on it.   Any advise?  Any old posts on the forum?  Anyone aware of any books or essays that discuss the technical difficulties of the work? Any suggestions for a preparative piece (the sonata is above, right now, the technical level that I'm at)

All help is appreciated

xx Pathetique
March 25, 2005, 01:25:36 PM by LVB op.57

I just finished the first movement of Beethoven's pathetique, and now I'm looking at the other two. I know the second movement is easy, but how does the third compare to the first in terms of technical difficulty? Thank you in advance for your reply.

xx Beethoven, Moonlight, Pathetique, Appassionata.
April 26, 2005, 03:41:16 PM by C#minor

Hi everyone, this is my first post. I have been a long time reader to this awesome forum.
This time I have a question.
Which pianist you think played this work "Beethoven, Moonlight, Pathetique, Appassionata" the best in your opinion?
There is one by Brendel, another one by Kempff, both are pretty famous, but I would like to hear what do you think about their performances.

Thanks a lot.


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