\"\"
Piano Forum logo

Moonlight Sonata (Read 54187 times)

Offline threepwood

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 9
Moonlight Sonata
« on: February 16, 2009, 08:20:08 PM »
Hello all piano players

I have a question I must have answered, how is the Moonlight Sonata ranked at Level 8+ ? Its one of the easiest pieces of classical music...?

piano sheet music of Sonata 14 (Moonlight)


Offline pianisten1989

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1525
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #1 on: February 16, 2009, 08:35:20 PM »
You do know that it is a sonata, right? Three movements. The first movement is quite hard to get rubato, without cliche.
The third movement is very fast and quite difficult. But 8+ isn't perticulary hard... Kind of everything is 8+...

Offline zheer

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2780
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #2 on: February 16, 2009, 08:40:07 PM »
It was listed as  grade 7 , it is now grade 8+ . Personally I believe that it all depends on how ambitious you are with the sonata. If your looking to simple play the notes, good tempo and Ok musicality, then yeah grade 7 or 8, but if your looking to play it really well ( concert ), then I'd say the third MVT is seriously tough.
" Nothing ends nicely, that's why it ends" - Tom Cruise -

Offline njalli

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 136
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #3 on: February 16, 2009, 08:59:43 PM »
The first movement is quite easy. But in the 3rd movement, things get a litle more complicated. That movement, if you look at the sheet music, you can see that its NOT  easy.

;D :D ;) :) 8) ::) :P


Offline pianowolfi

  • PS Gold Member
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5658
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #4 on: February 16, 2009, 09:13:24 PM »
Unfortunately 99% of the students quit before reaching the third measure of the second mvt.  :'(  :P

Offline general disarray

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 695
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #5 on: February 16, 2009, 09:43:01 PM »
The first movement is quite easy. But in the 3rd movement, things get a litle more complicated. That movement, if you look at the sheet music, you can see that its NOT  easy.

;D :D ;) :) 8) ::) :P



With all due respect, the first movement APPEARS to be easy, but controlling those hushed dynamics and making that theme sing is no task for beginners.  Expert control and phrasing is required here. 
" . . . cross the ocean in a silver plane . . . see the jungle when it's wet with rain . . . "

Offline njalli

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 136
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #6 on: February 16, 2009, 10:05:56 PM »
With all due respect, the first movement APPEARS to be easy, but controlling those hushed dynamics and making that theme sing is no task for beginners.  Expert control and phrasing is required here. 

true.. somebody allso said here that the 3rd movement isnt hard but its really hard to play on concert..

you can say the same about the first MVT, just to get the melody to sing and as you mentionet the dynamics, both of these things make the first movement not technicly hard but hard in other ways

Offline kelly_kelly

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 831
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #7 on: February 16, 2009, 10:47:20 PM »
"Hard" is very relative. For an advanced pianist, the sonata may be very easy (though still probably not enough to be called "one of the easiest pieces of classical music"). For an average student, though, the third movement is quite difficult. I would say that it would be difficult for a grade 8 student, and therefore deserves classification as 8+.
It all happens on Discworld, where greed and ignorance influence human behavior... and perfectly ordinary people occasionally act like raving idiots.

A world, in short, totally unlike our own.

Offline etcetra

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 221
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #8 on: February 17, 2009, 06:48:43 AM »
Unfortunately 99% of the students quit before reaching the third measure of the second mvt.  :'(  :P

I remember playing the second movement a long time ago.. its definitely not 'easy' to play it well.

Offline goldentone

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1679
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #9 on: February 26, 2009, 06:30:36 AM »
With all due respect, the first movement APPEARS to be easy, but controlling those hushed dynamics and making that theme sing is no task for beginners.  Expert control and phrasing is required here. 

Good point.  I agree.
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

Offline quantum

  • PS Gold Member
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5518
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #10 on: February 26, 2009, 05:39:16 PM »
I think the whole sonata is deceptive with regards to it's difficulty.  The notes are easy, performing them well is hard. 

Somehow I find some of Beethoven's more difficult sonatas easier to perform for an audience than the Moonlight.
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Online perfect_pitch

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 5996
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #11 on: March 10, 2009, 01:20:08 PM »
First of all... to carefully play the movement with all the proper technique AND to connect all the legato passages.... also the finger substitution may be a stretch for small hands.

Even I sometimes have a little trouble playing an octave with fingers 1-4. It's definately grade 7 I'd say (the first movement) as for the 3rd Movement I'd say is definately Grade 8.

Never underestimate grading guidelines... they're there for a reason... and if you think their too easy for what grade they are? You haven't tried playing it yet.

Couple of pointers though...

- DO NOT play the first movement at half the speed - it's boring as sh*t!
- MAKE SURE you keep a very keen eye on the dynamics. I've had people play this thing all the way through at the dynamic piano. Incredibly boring.

Offline Petter

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1183
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #12 on: March 10, 2009, 03:08:34 PM »
If you want to play it to someone who have heard it 10 billion times its probably a grade 15 piece, otherwise Id say its the first movement is around ~7,654334212.
"A gentleman is someone who knows how to play an accordion, but doesn't." - Al Cohn

Offline coolpianodude

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 1
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #13 on: May 10, 2009, 07:44:53 PM »
youre right

Offline ramseytheii

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2515
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #14 on: May 11, 2009, 02:43:22 AM »
Hello all piano players

I have a question I must have answered, how is the Moonlight Sonata ranked at Level 8+ ? Its one of the easiest pieces of classical music...?

Are you the Honorable Freddie Threepwood?

Walter Ramsey



Offline lontano

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 419
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #15 on: July 29, 2009, 11:17:38 PM »
I think the whole sonata is deceptive with regards to it's difficulty.  The notes are easy, performing them well is hard. 

Somehow I find some of Beethoven's more difficult sonatas easier to perform for an audience than the Moonlight.
It's been many years since I last played the Moonlight (and I never managed to play it well), but I was looking at the Urtext score now available here and was surprised to read the initial instruction that includes "to be played in its entirety without the use of the damper pedal". Without going to the piano and attempt a sumptuous, ultra-legato rendering sans pedal, I first listened to the mp3 file associated with the score and while the performance is very nice, I honestly can't believe it was played without dampers. Am I too long out of touch to appreciate the difficulty of performing it, or is the damper used (with discretion) in this (and other) recordings? :o ::)

Lontano
...and she disappeared from view while playing the Agatha Christie Fugue...

Offline nilsjohan

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1652
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #16 on: July 30, 2009, 07:21:08 AM »
I first listened to the mp3 file associated with the score and while the performance is very nice, I honestly can't believe it was played without dampers. Am I too long out of touch to appreciate the difficulty of performing it, or is the damper used (with discretion) in this (and other) recordings? :o ::)

In the Piano Street Urtext we have Beethoven's instruction in Italian:
Si deve suonare tutto questo pezzo delicatissimamente e senza sordino

It translates to something like this:
This whole movement must be played with the utmost delicacy and without dampers.

Since the dampers are removed from the strings by the right pedal it means to keep the right pedal down. It's not perfectly clear if Beethoven meant to keep the pedal down throughout the whole movement whithout shifting between harmonies but even if that's how he played it on the pianos of his times it is certainly not such a brilliant idea on today's modern instruments which has much longer sustain.
Andras Schiff discusses this in his London lectures on the 32 Sonatas by Beethoven from 2006. See the link halfway down in this post: http://www.pianostreet.com/blog/piano-news/marathon-men-two-complete-beethoven-sonatas-694/


Offline lontano

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 419
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #17 on: July 31, 2009, 03:14:04 AM »
Unfortunately 99% of the students quit before reaching the third measure of the second mvt.  :'(  :P
I know I did, several times... :D
...and she disappeared from view while playing the Agatha Christie Fugue...

Offline learner of liszt

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 74
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #18 on: July 31, 2009, 03:28:08 AM »
Unfortunately 99% of the students quit before reaching the third measure of the second mvt.  :'(  :P

Yet funny enough, the first is my least favorite movement of the sonata (I really love the second!). Funny. The third is also great.
"My age I cannot remember it, it keeps changing every year!"
~Bernhard
"Why should I go to anyone's funeral? They won't go to mine!"
~Learner of Liszt

Offline lontano

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 419
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #19 on: July 31, 2009, 03:33:51 AM »
In the Piano Street Urtext we have Beethoven's instruction in Italian:
Si deve suonare tutto questo pezzo delicatissimamente e senza sordino

It translates to something like this:
This whole movement must be played with the utmost delicacy and without dampers.

Since the dampers are removed from the strings by the right pedal it means to keep the right pedal down. It's not perfectly clear if Beethoven meant to keep the pedal down throughout the whole movement whithout shifting between harmonies but even if that's how he played it on the pianos of his times it is certainly not such a brilliant idea on today's modern instruments which has much longer sustain.
Andras Schiff discusses this in his London lectures on the 32 Sonatas by Beethoven from 2006. See the link halfway down in this post: http://www.pianostreet.com/blog/piano-news/marathon-men-two-complete-beethoven-sonatas-694/
Ahhh, that makes all the difference!  :-[ (|: Dummkopf, Dummkopf!!:|)  :-[
I guess I HAVE been out of touch for too long. I know I looked at the instruction and tried to comprehend it both ways, and the idea of keeping the pedal down all the way through seemed as bizarre as not using it at all, but I obviously settled on the wrong conclusion. I did take it to the piano and attempted to play it with minimal pedal, but it sounded clunky, and bringing out the voices isn't easy on my Yamaha studio (because I recently inherited it from my mother and haven't got the $$$ to bring it up to snuff yet). Many thanks for re-awakening me! :)

Lontano
...and she disappeared from view while playing the Agatha Christie Fugue...

Offline lorditachijr

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 68
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #20 on: April 04, 2010, 10:26:23 PM »
The first movement may be easy, but the second movement is difficult to play musically, and the 3rd movement is very difficult to play all around.

Offline dss62467

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 195
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #21 on: April 09, 2010, 04:08:51 PM »
I haven't gotten any further than printing the 3rd movement off of Pianostreet.com.   It's daunting, to say the least...
Currently learning:
Chopin Prelude Op. 28, no. 15
Schubert Sonata in A Major, D.959: Allegretto

Offline pianisten1989

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1525
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #22 on: April 09, 2010, 04:53:33 PM »
What's up with answering one year old topics?

Offline stevebob

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1133
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #23 on: April 09, 2010, 05:43:49 PM »
What's up with answering one year old topics?

I guess lorditachijr felt compelled to offer what was believed to be new information or a unique perspective or even the definitive answer:

The first movement may be easy, but the second movement is difficult to play musically, and the 3rd movement is very difficult to play all around.

I just hope the original poster is still monitoring this thread.  That could be the pithy, perceptive, insightful assessment he or she was seeking.  :)

What passes you ain't for you.

Offline adaubre

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 49
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #24 on: April 09, 2010, 10:13:41 PM »
I guess lorditachijr felt compelled to offer what was believed to be new information or a unique perspective or even the definitive answer:
I just hope the original poster is still monitoring this thread.  That could be the pithy, perceptive, insightful assessment he or she was seeking.  :)

There you go again.  Can't help it, can you?

Offline adaubre

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 49
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #25 on: April 09, 2010, 10:16:48 PM »
I haven't gotten any further than printing the 3rd movement off of Pianostreet.com.   It's daunting, to say the least...

Here's a really good playing of the 3rd movement by the brilliant Valentina:


Offline stevebob

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1133
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #26 on: April 09, 2010, 10:57:08 PM »
There you go again.  Can't help it, can you?

This year-old thread was resurrected by a new member making his first post to the forum; it was a superficial observation, the substance of which is common knowledge and was already stated by others in this very discussion.  I thought that merited a mildly sarcastic riposte.

In response, you lob yet another sanctimonious ad hominem toward me.  I don't know if your modest post count on this board includes those deleted by management, but I suspect the majority of them have been attacks on other people.

There you go again.  Can't help it, can you?   ;D
What passes you ain't for you.

Online j_tour

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1136
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #27 on: March 30, 2019, 03:28:06 PM »
Oh, I don't know. 

A few months ago I brought out the old 27/2 and found the third movement not as daunting as I remembered. 

It's that damned rhythm Beethoven insisted on he really seemed to like that clomping horse-hooves punctuation in the LH.

One of my nephews is interested in piano, so to that end I thought I'd try to memorize some flashy stuff that impressed me as a child. 

The Op. 27 no. 1 final movement is more difficult IMHO, but less impressive IMHO, to a child's ears.  But it's more fun to play, and the whole sonata is better music.

Oh, and despite the indications, Debussy does not impress children.  Not even "Minstrels" from Bk. 1.

Nor does Bach. 

I think it is they have a small working memory.



My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline bachapprentice

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 85
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #28 on: January 18, 2020, 03:25:51 AM »
The fist movement may look easy and yes its not that difficult to play if you want to impress your girlfriend. But to play it beautifully is another story. The 3rd movement makes this sonata very difficult. The fastest I ever heard was by Glenn Gould warp speed.

Offline v1ct0r

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 7
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #29 on: May 22, 2020, 07:11:50 PM »
First of all notes in a piece are the first step to learning theres still mapping of the phrasing, second this piece has three movements and the second is harder, next the notes can be deceiving my teacher comes from a lineage of teachers leading back to Beethoven himself. Most pianists play that reoccurring dotted rhythm for example incorrectly because they play what they commonly hear rather than whats written. Its not played as a sextuplet but rather a 4:3 rhythm which is hard to do because that top note is the loudest voice so it creates dimension in the first movement.

Offline sdphins

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 12
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #30 on: May 31, 2020, 11:47:59 PM »
With all due respect, the first movement APPEARS to be easy, but controlling those hushed dynamics and making that theme sing is no task for beginners.  Expert control and phrasing is required here.

Very true

Offline jlmap

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 19
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #31 on: August 21, 2020, 08:52:20 PM »
First and second movements are quite easy.

As for the third movement, I coudn't play it for a long time. But eventually I got the way, and it became not easy, but not difficult either. I'll rank it as about 6/10 in terms of difficulty.

Online j_tour

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1136
Re: Moonlight Sonata
«Reply #32 on: August 22, 2020, 06:57:41 AM »
Its not played as a sextuplet but rather a 4:3 rhythm which is hard to do

That's one of the more good comments I've heard in a long time about music.

Although I'm not sure anyone has every played this as suggested with coupled RH and LH in sextuples.

Yeah, that's about right:  try it out, just tap your LH in triplets and superimpose a four on top.

That actually works and sounds good, at least to my ears. 

No, it's not exactly easy to do, but it sounds much better in my ears than the way it's sometimes played, and to Beethoven's credit, the notation does clearly state this is to have been the case.   I prefer to think I've done it correctly, and, indeed, I think most people I've heard do an approximation of this idea.

But it's a fun exercise to perform if one takes a few seconds and tries it out.

No, I have no interest in playing the first movement again, ever, but it is better that way, and it's a fun idea to bring out the percussionist latent in all pianists.

I don't agree that most people play this any other way, but it's a good rhythmic exercise to practice away from the keyboard, particularly if one isn't used to this kind of polyrhythm.  Even better is to tap out 4:3 using the RH as a simple guide.

My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.