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Beethoven - The last 3 (Read 19795 times)

Offline Ecthelion

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Beethoven - The last 3
« on: April 10, 2004, 02:02:41 PM »
Hello,

which Sonata from Beethoven is technically AND musically harder to play, op. 109, op. 110 or 111 ? And which do you think are the most genious?

1 = hardest

1. ?
2. ?
3. ?

regards, Ecthelion

Offline bernhard

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #1 on: April 10, 2004, 02:33:22 PM »
They are all equally genious.

In tems of difficulty (both technical and musical), the general consensus seems to be:

1. Op. 111 (hardest)
2. Op. 109
3. Op. 110

(These are the most difficult sonatas overall - except for Op. 106 - Hammerklavier - which is the most difficult of the lot)

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline Hmoll

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #2 on: April 10, 2004, 05:44:10 PM »
Quote
They are all equally genious.
1. Op. 111 (hardest)
2. Op. 109
3. Op. 110

(These are the most difficult sonatas overall - except for Op. 106 - Hammerklavier - which is the most difficult of the lot)

Best wishes,
Bernhard.



Sorry, Bernhard. I can't agree. Op 101 beats out all the above three in difficulty, and is the most difficult after Op106.

As long as we are talking about this subjective topic, I think "Les Adieux" is also more difficult than 109, and 110. Also, I would say Op7 (which has technical and musical demands even for an early Beethoven) is more difficult than op110.

Fine points, I'm sure, because they are all difficult.

106 is in a class by itself.
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Offline bernhard

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #3 on: April 10, 2004, 09:23:39 PM »
Quote



Sorry, Bernhard. I can't agree. Op 101 beats out all the above three in difficulty, and is the most difficult after Op106.

As long as we are talking about this subjective topic, I think "Les Adieux" is also more difficult than 109, and 110. Also, I would say Op7 (which has technical and musical demands even for an early Beethoven) is more difficult than op110.

Fine points, I'm sure, because they are all difficult.

106 is in a class by itself.


Don't be sorry! ;) These things are highly subjective anyway, and you are right: Op. 101 is pretty tough as well. At this level the whole thing is about discussing which would cause the worst burn: molten lead or molten silver. :P

Here is my list of the 32 in order of difficulty. I would be curious to see other people's:

1. Op. 49 no. 2
2. Op. 49 no. 1
3. Op. 79
4. Op. 14 no. 2
5. Op. 14 no. 1
6. Op. 2 no. 1
7. Op. 10 no. 1
8. Op. 10 no. 2
9. Op. 2. no. 2
10. Op. 2 no. 3
11. Op. 10 no. 3
12. Op. 13 (Pathetique)
13. Op. 22
14. Op. 28 (Pastorale)
15. Op. 7
16. Op. 78
17. Op. 26
18. Op. 31 no. 3
19. Op. 31 no. 1
20. Op. 90
21. Op. 27 no. 1
22. Op. 27 no. 2 (Moonlight)
23. Op. 54
24. Op. 31 no. 2 (Tempest)
25. Op. 53 (Waldstein)
26. Op. 81 (Les Adieux)
27. Op. 57 (Appasionata)
28. Op. 101
29. Op. 110
30. Op. 109
31. Op. 111
32. Op. 106 (Hammerklavier)

This is the order I would suggest to someone wishing to learn all of them. Both musical and technical difficulty are considered, and I am also having in mind playing them as close to perfection as possible (hence the Moonlight being placed so higher in thelist - the much hackneyed first movement is very difficult to pull off).

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline Hmoll

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #4 on: April 10, 2004, 10:50:07 PM »
Bernhard,

I have a ranking that I can post later.
I think you underestimate the musical difficulties of the early Beethoven sonatas.
The 2nd and 4th movements of op 10#3 are very difficult musically. Likewise, the 1st and 4th movements of Op7. Both of these pieces are - im<ho - more difficult that op27#2.
Also, I think op27#1 is much more difficult than op27#2.  Finally, I think Op31#2 is the easiest of the op31 sonatas.

Look forward to your reply.
Cheers.
"I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me!" -- Max Reger

Offline bernhard

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #5 on: April 11, 2004, 03:35:06 AM »
You may well be right.

Certainly amongst the early sonatas Op. 7 is the masterpiece. So where would you put it in the general scheme? (I put it in 15th place, halfway through).

Now, if you go to a party and people ask you to play a Beethoven sonata, chances are that Op. 10. #3, op. 7, op. 27#1, op. 31 #1 and op. 31 #3 will be unknown pieces. But start the Moonlight or the Tempest, and smiles of recognition will go around the room.

I submit that it is their very popularity (and the related fact that some of the greatest pianist in history have recorded them) that make these sonatas extremely difficult to play well, and that you will have to add to their technical and musical difficulty the psychological difficulty of comparison with much better pianists (certainly much better than me). Worse still, because people know them, this immediately turns them (in their minds at least) into music critics. Plus you may have to contend with people who may be bored to tears with these well known sonatas, and therefore you would have to play them extraordinarily well to have any sort of impact. The other sonatas quoted would require far less effort to produce a far greater impact.

At the end of the day, I guess that these lists have more to do with one’s personal perception of difficulty rather than any intrinsic difficulty of the piece itself. Which is why I would be interested in other people’s lists.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline Hmoll

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #6 on: April 11, 2004, 04:40:20 PM »
My ranking is below. I'm not sure about using popularity as a criteria for evaluating difficulty. As much as a pianist might be judged in comparison to the ggreats who recorded op13, op27#2, op57, 31#2, he may also be judged in comparison to all the hackneyed performances by students who try to play these pieces before they have the adequate chops. Also, some sonatas become more or less in favor for certain periods of time. For example, there was a time when Horowitz was touring and playing op101 for a while - late 1970s and 80s - it seemed that this sonata became more popular during that time, and fell off after his death. (I have no stats on # of performances to back this up. It's just an impression of mine. ) If that's the case, do you then raise that piece in the rankings for that time frame?
I'm splitting hairs, I know. Finally, while some people might be bored to tears listening to the Moonlight for the 10,001st time, there are other who are bored by listening to music they've never heard before. In that case, you would have to play those pieces extremely well to get a postitive impression from that type of audience.

Ranking by technical, stylistic, interpretive difficulties is hard enough. For the purposes of pedagogy, it makes more sense to apply that criteria because it is a better guideline for study. Also, juries at competitions and auditions are going to hear Rach 3, G minor Ballade, ad nauseum, but they will for the most part be professional, and evaluate the actual playing vs difficulty of repertoire, and not the popularity of the repertoire.

It is extremely subjective, and I would like to see other's rankings as well.

1 - Op 49#2
2 - Op 49#1
3 - Op 79
4 - Op 14#1
5 - Op 2#1
6 - Op 10#1
7 - Op 14#2
8 - Op 10#2
9 - Op 26
10 - Op 13
11 - Op 54
12 - Op 27#2
13 - Op 28
14 - Op 31#3
15 - Op 78
16 - Op 31#2
17 - Op. 22
18 - Op 2#3
19 - Op 2#2
20 - Op 90
21 - Op 31#1
22 - Op 10#3
23 - Op 27#1
24 - Op 7
25 - Op 110
26 - Op 57
27 - Op 109
28 - Op 81a
29 - Op 53
30 - Op 111
31 - Op 101
32 - Op 106
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Offline ThEmUsIcMaNBJ

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #7 on: April 11, 2004, 08:55:08 PM »
I think Op.31 No.3 is much more difficult than both of you give it credit for.  And the Waldstein is much more difficult then Appasionata, at least thats what I can see  ;)

I havn't played either but my friend has played the appasionata and I hear it way way too often it just doesn't seem as difficult as everyone says.  And I've seen and heard the music for the Waldstein and that third movement.... MAN!  Looks like it blows the first movemnt of Appasionata out of the water.  The first movement of the Waldstein seems to beat the 3rd movement of the Appasionata by quite a leap too.

But then again I don't know what I'm talking about!  I'm sure you guys know better.  But I am curious to know why Bernhard thinks Appasionata is harder...  Musical difficulties?

Offline alkanite

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #8 on: April 12, 2004, 01:40:05 AM »
The 3rd movt. of the Appasionata is quite brutal around the middle with the alternating chords in the left hand.  Either you have the technique to do that or you don't.  1st movt. of the Waldstein doesn't really employ a technical device of similar difficulty.  Outside of that, I'd call those movements about even.  (For my technique, anyway).

Offline Ashley_Steinway

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #9 on: August 02, 2004, 11:16:27 PM »
Going slightly off topic here, but many people have said that the Hammerklavier is the most difficult sonata. I have not played any of them, I've been studying for exams, but seen the scores. I'm just about to learn the Pathetiqué, but is the Hammerklavier the most difficult technically, or musically? Or both?

Offline bernhard

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #10 on: August 03, 2004, 01:09:56 AM »
Quote
Going slightly off topic here, but many people have said that the Hammerklavier is the most difficult sonata. I have not played any of them, I've been studying for exams, but seen the scores. I'm just about to learn the Pathetiqué, but is the Hammerklavier the most difficult technically, or musically? Or both?



Both :P
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Offline ahmedito

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #11 on: August 03, 2004, 04:14:18 AM »
op. 106 is the monster sonata

For a good laugh, check out my posts in the audition room, and tell me exactly how terrible they are :)

Offline DarkWind

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #12 on: August 03, 2004, 04:38:57 AM »
The Hammerklavier was Beethoven's Favorite, supposedly. Very beautiful and grand sonata. But, very difficult.

Offline steinwayguy

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #13 on: March 06, 2005, 06:06:13 AM »
I decided to revive this topic as a result of Bernhard's mention of it another thread. I just came up with a list of the top 20, because I couldn't really assure myself as to the order of the 20 left off. I'd like to see others'.

1. Op. 106
2. Op. 101
3. Op. 111
4. Op. 7
5. Op. 110
6. Op. 53
7. Op. 109
8. Op. 81a
9. Op. 57
10. Op. 2 No. 3
11. Op. 2 No. 2
13. Op. 27 No. 1
14. Op. 90
15. Op. 10 No. 3
16. Op. 22
17. Op. 31 No. 3
18. Op. 31 No. 1
19. Op. 28
20. Op. 2 No. 1


Offline Lance Morrison

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #14 on: March 06, 2005, 06:18:43 AM »
though I can't comment on techincal difficulty, op. 109 is my favourite

Offline ted

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #15 on: March 06, 2005, 06:31:24 AM »
Sorry if I'm a fly in the ointment Bernhard, but quite frankly I'm bloody pleased he didn't write any more sonatas.

Did you get my files, by the way ?
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Offline argerich_smitten

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #16 on: March 06, 2005, 07:56:20 AM »
Quote
I'm just about to learn the Pathetiqué, but is the Hammerklavier the most difficult technically, or musically? Or both?

Hammer Klavier is pretty much as scary as pieces come; It's close to the very top of my list for being scary (beating out Liszt's Don Juan, Ravel's Gaspard, many godowsky etudes,). 

Technically

sure there's a LOT of notes, but even worse is this sonata is extremely unpianistic.  I doubt the notes would ever 'fall into ones fingers'; it's obvious Beethoven wrote this without any consideration for the pianist whatsoever.  No matter how many thousands of hours spent practicing it, Hammer Klavier is never 'safe'.  The fugue section in the last movement is just... well, unplayable I guess (though obviously there have been people who have pulled it off).  Also, the piece doesn't even sound that hard, and it's just about the hardest piece ever (figure of speech here).

Musically

there are 2 types of musical complexity I will address here; emotional complexity, and intellectual complexity. 

Intellectual complexity is the complexity of the score; the structure of a piece, the musicaly reasons for some of the radical things composers did, etc. 

Emotional complexity comes from the emotional termoil that the composer was feeling/wants the pianist to feel when playing, and what the pianist wants the audience to feel.  It is the understanding of the piece outside the printed notes.  Hammer Klavier is quite intellectually complex, but I personally don't think its too bad (I think the liszt sonata is more intelectually complex for instance).  On the other hand, I haven't heard a piece that was close to as emotionally complex as this.  Some of Beethoven's ideas are so weird and confusing but heart-wrenchingly beautiful.  The fugue in the last movement is grand in its highest form, yet it is so alien.  Though Hammer Klavier is nearly unplayable technically, I think the largest obstacle to overcome is the emotional complexity it contains. 

Quote
op. 106 is the monster sonata

this is barely scratching the surface... There are huge works that don't even come close to this (rach 3, gaspard de la nuit, [insert enormous piece here]).  After looking at Hammer Klavier, even the largest works seem insignificant.  Here's an interesting story to think about.

Liszt could learn monster pieces in a matter of hours; he could sight-read chopin etudes and never forget them, he could play entire orchestral scores just after flipping through the music.  How long did it take him to learn Hammer Klavier?
MONTHS

I think this should be scary enough to convince 98% of pianists to not even try. 

Offline fnork

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #17 on: March 06, 2005, 12:47:35 PM »
I noticed that many people put 109 as one of the hardest sonatas. Bernhardt ranked it as the 3rd hardest sonata, but, technically it's not that hard. The two first movements aren't technically demanding - although a few of the variations in the third movement are tough. But I don't see what makes this sonata rank THAT high. Waldstein scares the sh*t out of me, but this sonata doesn't.

Although, it's a bit harder to interpret it right.

Offline thierry13

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #18 on: March 07, 2005, 12:43:01 AM »
Argerich smitten, do you REALLY think hammerklavier is harder than rach 3 emotionally, and same technically. Rach 3 beats Hammerklavier all the way in both senses. A lot of pianist are under a so big schock after playing the rach 3 that they don't even try to play it the rest of their life. I've never heard such things about the Hammerklavier. I don't say it's easy, sure it's hard, same a monster work, but you overrate it a lot.

Offline Lance Morrison

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #19 on: March 07, 2005, 01:32:10 AM »
There is this strange sense of awe that Beethoven inspires in people, especially that sonate and that fuga. I find it to be a flawed work, but even I can't escape that feeling. . . . it is a great work, but perhaps its affect on people causes them to be slightly fanatical

Offline steinwayguy

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #20 on: March 07, 2005, 04:33:27 AM »
I promise you that the Hammerklavier is roughly equal to (not greater or less than) the Rachmaninoff Third technically. Emotionally, I think the Rach 3 wins, but the Hammerklavier's Adagio Sostenuto has to be one of the greatest and most sublime movements in the sonata literature.

Offline argerich_smitten

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #21 on: March 07, 2005, 05:09:41 AM »
I will still stand behind what I've said.  I think Hammer Klavier is much more emotionally complex than rach 3, and is more unpianistic.  (not more emotionally large, but much harder to convey)

Now does my oppinion matter?  It is not first hand.  I've not played rach 3 or Hammer Klavier (I mean i've read through them and and done a little analysis of course though that's totally different) but I feel that what i've said is correct.  Perhaps we need someone who has studied them a little more in-depth shall we say..."MEITING?!  Where are you???"

Offline Pianostudy

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #22 on: March 15, 2005, 08:09:32 AM »
I decided to revive this topic as a result of Bernhard's mention of it another thread. I just came up with a list of the top 20, because I couldn't really assure myself as to the order of the 20 left off. I'd like to see others'.

1. Op. 106
2. Op. 101
3. Op. 111
4. Op. 7
5. Op. 110
6. Op. 53
7. Op. 109
8. Op. 81a
9. Op. 57
10. Op. 2 No. 3
11. Op. 2 No. 2
13. Op. 27 No. 1
14. Op. 90
15. Op. 10 No. 3
16. Op. 22
17. Op. 31 No. 3
18. Op. 31 No. 1
19. Op. 28
20. Op. 2 No. 1


Is this just a listing of your top 20 favorite sonatas?

Offline felagund

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #23 on: July 24, 2005, 03:46:42 PM »
What's about op. 7? How difficult is it exactly? (musically and technically) I mean, you rated it quite differently... (15.,  24. and 4.) Is it more difficult than the well known sonatas like moonlight, pathetique, tempest or appassionata (I guess not) or not?
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Offline mwarner1

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #24 on: July 24, 2005, 08:07:01 PM »
Hey, aquariuswb here (new handle) --

Regarding the difficulties of Opp. 53 and 57:

Op. 57 is clearly the more difficult sonata, EXCEPT for the prestissimo at the end of the Waldstein. The octave glissandi are one problem; the other is the trills + melody in the right hand, with the trill notes changing. To keep that trill even and still hit all the melody notes LEGATO is difficult beyond words. As if that weren't enough, the end of the trill is accompanied by a left-hand trill, and the two trills must be perfectly even with one another.

Except for that prestissimo, though, I'd say the Appassionata is significantly more difficult, both musically and technically.

Offline airasia

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #25 on: January 04, 2006, 06:43:58 AM »

Liszt could learn monster pieces in a matter of hours; he could sight-read chopin etudes and never forget them, he could play entire orchestral scores just after flipping through the music.  How long did it take him to learn Hammer Klavier?
MONTHS

How do you know this?

Offline sevencircles

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #26 on: January 04, 2006, 08:56:06 AM »
Quote
Argerich smitten, do you REALLY think hammerklavier is harder than rach 3 emotionally, and same technically. Rach 3 beats Hammerklavier all the way in both senses. A lot of pianist are under a so big schock after playing the rach 3 that they don't even try to play it the rest of their life. I've never heard such things about the Hammerklavier. I don't say it's easy, sure it's hard, same a monster work, but you overrate it a lot.

You can´t really compare a Concerto with a Sonata.

The conductor can make everything as hard as he wants but you decide everything yourself when you play a sonata.




Offline superstition2

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Re: Beethoven - The last 3
«Reply #27 on: January 05, 2006, 10:35:35 AM »
Quote
I will still stand behind what I've said.  I think Hammer Klavier is much more emotionally complex than rach 3, and is more unpianistic.
That unpianistic point may be supported by the fact that Rachmaninov said he preferred his 3rd concerto over the 2nd because the 2nd is harder to play.