Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 5, Op. 10. No. 1, is one of Beethoven’s first period compositions and was composed between 1796-98. It is a precursor to his more famous “Pathetique” Sonata and his Symphony No.5; it is even nicknamed the “little Pathetique” as they share many of the same traits.

This sonata, along with the other sonatas of his Op.10, was dedicated by Beethoven to Anna Margarete von Browne, who was the wife of one of Beethoven’s patrons, a Russian diplomat in Vienna.

This sonata is a very energetic and fun piece to play! It is very dramatic and explosive, and has stark sudden dynamic changes throughout the piece. The dynamics can shift from double forte and sforzando, down to piano and mezzo forte seemingly at an instant. Because it is so enjoyable to play this piece, I found it difficult in the beginning to practice methodically, as I just wanted to play it through.  However, I eventually began the journey of slow, methodical and sectionalized practice. Once I began this journey, the biggest struggles that I faced were keeping a steady tempo and not rushing.  As the piece is very exciting, it was, and sometimes still is, easy to get carried away and find myself starting at the piece’s tempo marking of, “Allegro con brio,” and ending in Presto!  I also found the process of polishing the piece very difficult. This is because, with Beethoven, and other classical era composers, there are so many little details, such as two note slurs, staccatos, and crisp and clean movements, that form the piece, that one must have these details close to perfect, or the piece won’t sound right.

After finally learning and polishing the piece, the images that this piece invokes came into view. The first, fitting ironically with this Halloween season, is exploring a dark old abandoned castle and being surprised at each corner; and, the second image, more fitting with Beethoven’s time, is a masquerade party with a scavenger hunt at a palace, and everyone is having a good time while searching for the clues.

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Dr. Marcia Bosits
Dr. Marcia Bosits(@marcia-bosits)
26 days ago

Picture This dramatic photo matches your and our understanding of the piece.  It shows both darkness (represented by the key of the movement as well as other features) and surprise.  In addition, you made a connection to societal norms in Beethoven’s time which is quite admirable.  Introduction Bravo to you for giving us a historical perspective on this piece.  We learn something from considering its connection to other Beethoven compositions, i.e. the Pathetique Sonata and Fifth Symphony (We might be inspired to listen to those, too).  You went on to describe pianistic details and challenges in the movement which is valuable for anyone who might study the piece.  Finally, you shared comments about your personal connection to the music, rounding out the comprehensiveness of your written introduction.  Performance The small gestures (slurs, releases, etc.) were beautifully executed. Ascending figures also had direction/dynamic shape.You also had precision in your execution of the dotted rhythmic figures.  This is such an important characteristic of this movement.You set off the second theme from the very first note with a different/special sound quality.The LH Alberti bass (an essential figure in Classical keyboard music) was clean and “active” but well balanced with the RH line. At the… Read more »

Julie Harris
Julie Harris(@julie-harris)
1 month ago

Hi Myles! Ever since I heard you play the Liszt Consolation in the last contest, I’ve been a great fan of yours, eager to hear you play again. Your Beethoven is another great presentation! I wasn’t familiar with this sonata, and was intrigued to hear that it is sometimes called the “little Pathetique”. As a teacher, I’m always eager to learn, so I was thrilled to learn so much from your presentation.

Your playing is impressive, Myles. You combine precision with artistic expression. You’ve certainly captured the drama of early Beethoven with your wonderful control of dynamics. I particularly enjoyed the ending!

I loved your verbal description of the “dark, old abandoned castle” and especially the Beethoven-era masquerade party with a scavenger hunt. What fun images you invoke!

Oh by the way, you might want to add to your intro that this is the first movement of a multi-movement sonata, for those who may not know the structure of Classical and Romantic sonatas.

Thanks for another great piano presentation. Can’t wait to hear more and more!!

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
1 month ago

Lovely music and presentation, Myles. Well done.

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Lola Mestas
Lola Mestas(@lola-mestas)
1 month ago

Wonderful perfomance!

Julie Harris
Julie Harris(@julie-harris)
25 days ago

Congratulations on your well-deserved win, Myles. Also congratulations on winning the Public Voting contest! You must have a lot of dedicated fans. Thanks so much for bringing this wonderful music to a wider audience.

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