My Favorite Composer

by Ms. Koci
Choosing a favorite composer is hard, but my favorite has to be Ludwig van Beethoven. Why? He changed the rules of music. His compositions are groundbreaking.
Now how about a favorite piece of mine? Well Beethoven’s rousing 9th Symphony or his haunting Moonlight Sonata are tempting choices, but I’d have to go with his Piano Sonata 23 in F Minor nicknamed the Appassionata in 1837. The more I listen to the piece the more I identify with it.
Listen here and here to the first and third movements.
Notice how the theme is just an arpeggio[1]. Beethoven was a genius at creating themes but had difficulty with melodies. He wrote the sonata in the year 1803, the year he realized he was going deaf. This piece is part of Beethoven’s "middle period" compositions that passionately wrestle with a realization of mortality. Part of the drama of the sonata is that the arpeggio motif is always left unfinished, leaving the listener not fully satisfied with a resolution to the turbulent emotion of the piece.
Beethoven is a composer in a class of his own. In terms of style, his straddles both the classical and romantic movements. The classical movement was obsessed with measured, correct music that had neat resolutions following conflict and equal phrasing. While Beethoven grew up in the spirit of Mozart, he stretched the rules of classical music and was forward thinking in the passion of his piece.
What’s interesting is that at the end of his life, Beethoven started to look backwards at older forms such as Bach’s. This was as the romantic movement was gaining steam. Romantic music could be described as “I will throw my feelings into your consciousness”—music overflowing with emotions and the independent expression of the composer. In contrast, Beethoven finds a space between the unbridled individualism of romanticism and rigidity of classicism.
Please take a few minutes to listen to the first and third movements of this incredible sonata!
[1] An arpeggio (Italian: [arˈpeddʒo]) is a type of broken chord, in which the notes that compose a chord are played or sung in a rising or descending order. (Wikipedia)

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