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#553223 - 02/12/08 11:08 PM Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
Mile Hi Steve Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/08/07
Posts: 150
Loc: Denver, CO
I have noticed several different fingerings for even the very first easy measure of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. A majority of sheet music seems to recommend starting out playing 1-3-5 RH and the rest of sheet music recommends 2-4-5 RH.

I personally think the 2-4-5 feel awful to my hand, but I am willing to learn and play it that way if that is the correct way, or Beethoven's intent.

Long story short, is there a "correct" or "official" fingering for Moonlight Sonata?

Did Beethoven include fingerings with the original music, and if so I guess that is the answer, I should use his, right? Otherwise, if it is up to some non-Beethoven type human's interpretation, then what is the most correct?

If there is no correct or official, and 2-4-5 feels horrible to me, should I go with 1-3-5 RH to start off with?

Thanks!
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#553224 - 02/12/08 11:25 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
8ude Offline
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Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 2050
I'll have to dig around to see if I have any info as to whether Beethoven notated fingering for this. He did notate fingers occasionally, though I think for this he did not.

Personally, I'd recommend you use 1-2-4 - you'll have to use that fingering anyway when the melody starts (use finger 5 for the melody).
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What you are is an accident of birth. What I am, I am through my own efforts. There have been a thousand princes and there will be a thousand more. There is one Beethoven.

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#553225 - 02/13/08 12:17 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
packa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/05
Posts: 1397
Loc: Dallas, TX
2-4-5 is certainly doable in the first measure, but I don't see the point when 1-3-5 is easier (and is what I use). But 8tude's point is valid too if you want to strive for consistency.

My teacher's consistent advice: consider the written fingerings (whether the composer's or just some editor's), then feel free to adopt, adapt, or change completely for whatever works best for you.
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#553226 - 02/13/08 08:34 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13706
Loc: Iowa City, IA
There is no official fingering.
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#553227 - 02/13/08 08:47 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10775
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I second Kreisler. There is no right fingering or official fingering, because everyone's hand size, flexibility, etc. are different. Do what is comfortable and allows you to play expressively. I also do the 1-2-4 fingering to set up the melody later.
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#553228 - 02/13/08 12:24 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
Mile Hi Steve Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/08/07
Posts: 150
Loc: Denver, CO
Thanks for the info everyone. Is there a place onlien I can go and see a copy of Beethoven's original?

Is there a really good version of the sheet music that is recommended, or should I just buy any version that looks good in the music store?
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#553229 - 02/13/08 12:53 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10775
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Any Urtext version would be best. Henle, if you can afford it.
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#553230 - 02/13/08 12:55 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
8ude Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 2050
The autograph is here:
http://www.beethoven-haus-bonn.de/sixcms...thoven&_seite=1

The first page has been lost though - so there may never be a definitive answer to your question regarding the opening measures. But judging from the rest it doesn't look like he notated it. Also, the opening movement is pretty easy, so it is unlikely that Beethoven would have felt the need to mark fingerings for such easy figurations.
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#553231 - 02/13/08 09:11 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
calpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 146
Loc: California
Was putting stems pointing down on the left side of the note heads a more recent development?

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#553232 - 02/13/08 10:31 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
wdot Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/07
Posts: 726
Loc: South Carolina, USA
I'm sorry, but 2-4-5 seems like idiocy to me. The maxim that one should not use one's thumb on a black note is problematic at best, and if that's the point of this fingering, then that's just nuts. What fingering do the 2-4-5 editions suggest when the G# octaves occur in the right hand? Please tell me it isn't 2-5. If it's 1-5, as I suspect, then what's the point of using 2 on the opening G#?

1-2-4 works fine for me.

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#553233 - 02/13/08 11:50 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
Mile Hi Steve Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/08/07
Posts: 150
Loc: Denver, CO
Oh goody, well I bought an edition today that uses 1-3-5 starting out and that seems to be the consensus so I will be going with that. If Beethoven wanted me to use 2-4-5 I would but it sounds like he didn't heh heh, thanks everyone.
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#553234 - 02/14/08 11:00 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
Gabe Racz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/03/07
Posts: 119
Loc: Denver, Colorado, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by NorwegianForest:
Oh goody, well I bought an edition today that uses 1-3-5 starting out and that seems to be the consensus so I will be going with that. If Beethoven wanted me to use 2-4-5 I would but it sounds like he didn't heh heh, thanks everyone. [/b]
I would agree with the others that even if Beethoven wrote out a fingering I wouldn't automatically use it, unless I was playing the piece with Beethoven's hands.

Now that conjures up some bad visuals . . .

Anyway, unlike expression markings I think fingerings are really suggestions.
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#553235 - 02/14/08 02:40 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19099
Loc: New York City
 Quote:
Originally posted by wdot:
I'm sorry, but 2-4-5 seems like idiocy to me. The maxim that one should not use one's thumb on a black note is problematic at best, and if that's the point of this fingering, then that's just nuts. What fingering do the 2-4-5 editions suggest when the G# octaves occur in the right hand? Please tell me it isn't 2-5. If it's 1-5, as I suspect, then what's the point of using 2 on the opening G#?
[/b]
Perhaps to avoid an accent on the first note of each triplet.

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#553236 - 08/22/08 07:26 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
saurabh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 50
Loc: India
can anyone please tell me why it is called sonata in Cm whereas i found it to played in Emajor scale???

thanks in advance

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#553237 - 08/22/08 07:28 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13706
Loc: Iowa City, IA
It's not called sonata in Cm. It's a sonata in C#m, the relative minor to E Major. Both have four sharps.
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#553238 - 08/22/08 07:54 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4974
Loc: boston north
I was taught to use 245 and the explanation was that the thumb often is a 'heavier' finger causing some to play it with more of an accent.

I do it both ways now (just went to test it out) comfortably, but certainly pay close attention to the strength of my thumb.
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#553239 - 08/22/08 07:57 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
Wood-demon Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/25/07
Posts: 607
Loc: UK
The 2-4-5 fingering must have been supplied by some over-solicitous editor concerned that the use of the thumb might produce "bumps" in the playing of the opening where the figure which forms the accompaniment to the melody later on is exposed on its own.
I don't have the Henle edition, but I understand that Beethoven asks for the sustaining pedal to be held down throughout the course of the movement. A recent recording by a celebrated pianist who follows this direction can only have been made to illustrate the point that it's not always wise to follow every direction a composer gave to the letter...especially when playing upon modern instruments.

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#553240 - 08/22/08 09:42 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10775
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Consider as well that Beethoven composed on an instrument with slightly smaller keys. Even if those are his fingerings in your score, it doesn't necessarily mean it's appropriate on a modern instrument. And always, always play with what is comfortable in your hand. Fingering is always up to the performer!
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#553241 - 08/22/08 11:04 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
gooddog Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4669
Loc: Seattle area, WA
 Quote:
Originally posted by wdot:
I'm sorry, but 2-4-5 seems like idiocy to me. [/b]
Fingering is completely an individual preference, based, as others said, on the flexibility and dexterity of your own hands. Don't decide based on consensus in the forum or on the reputation of an editor. Decide on what feels best for YOUR hands. But you must also take into consideration how well the fingering will work at performance speed and how well it sets you up for the next notes.

I have come to trust certain editors, particularly Theopold for the WTC. I decided this after changing the recommended fingering many times but always ending up going back to Theopold's original recommendation. Other editors do a poor job and I expect to make changes.

 Quote:

The maxim that one should not use one's thumb on a black note is problematic at best, [/b]
This I heartily agree with. Occasionally you will come across a fingering that seems and feels odd and uncomfortable but turns out to the the best option. Sometimes, you just have to train you fingers to tackle something new. I encounter this frequently in Bach. For instance, I wrestled with the right hand fingering on an ascending run that ended with 2nd finger on A and thumb on Bb because the next note is a Bb an octave above. I tried every option I could think of but found this was the only one that really worked. To execute it, I have to work my way deeply between the black keys. After some practice, it worked very well and really was the best option despite it seeming awkward at first.

So in short, feel free to adjust the fingering as needed but keep yourself open to new ideas. Also keep in mind the speed and how well the fingering feeds into the next notes.
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#553242 - 08/22/08 11:11 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
Janus K. Sachs Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/07
Posts: 1708
Loc: Betelgeuse, baby!
Wow, thread necromancy seems to be catching on here!

This Resurrection/Second Coming came about when saurabh simply asked a question about keys, which Kreisler answered.

The OP was made back in February. I'm sure the fingering issue has been dealt with since then.
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Die Stockfisch bleiben dicke,
Die Karpfen viel fressen,
Die Predigt vergessen.

Die Predigt hat g'fallen.
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#553243 - 08/22/08 11:16 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
gooddog Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4669
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Ha! I didn't notice the date, just the topic! Maybe the forum needs an icon to show the resurrection of the dead?
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Deborah

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#553244 - 08/23/08 08:34 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
saurabh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 50
Loc: India
i gave up... i could barely reach 4th measure.. 5th one bouncing over my head.. I guess it is too difficult to learn without a live teacher

but tell you what, playing first four measure was probably the best time i ever spent on my piano... i was absorbed in the soothing music it produced..

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#553245 - 08/25/08 06:18 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
Prince Charles Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/19/08
Posts: 180
Loc: London
1-2-4....is what I've been taught and seems the most natural fingering. The two books also put down 1-2-4.

Mark

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#553246 - 09/02/08 10:31 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
derekp Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/08
Posts: 106
Loc: Chicago Area
So starting with the 6th measure, your supposed to play the melody (with the stems pointing up) with your 5th finger, while at the same time playing the triplets with your other fingers? (cause the left hand is busy with base line). If that's the case, then last triplet of the 8th measure has the first note of the triplet as an A (which the thumb would play), while the 5th finger hits the B an octave higher? Or do you hit the B first, then hit the sustain pedal, then start the triplet immediately afterwards? Cause even though my hands aren't small, I can only stretch 1 octave -- hitting that B in the next octave with my thumb hitting the lower A isn't doable. Help. (I also don't have a sustain pedal yet, until my digital piano comes in).

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#553247 - 09/02/08 11:19 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
reflections Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/25/08
Posts: 10
I have several editions (pdf) and the suggested fingerings vary between 1-3-5 or 2-4-5 or 1-2-4. I have been using 1-3-5, but I just now tried 2-4-5, and it does make the playing less bumpy. Playing with the thumb requires more delicate listening skills, and good thumb technique. IMO, 2-4-5 was easier for achieving even dynamics; however, it has been good for my technique and ear to practice using my thumb delicately.

 Quote:
Originally posted by derekp:
So starting with the 6th measure, your supposed to play the melody (with the stems pointing up) with your 5th finger, while at the same time playing the triplets with your other fingers? (cause the left hand is busy with base line). If that's the case, then last triplet of the 8th measure has the first note of the triplet as an A (which the thumb would play), while the 5th finger hits the B an octave higher? Or do you hit the B first, then hit the sustain pedal, then start the triplet immediately afterwards? Cause even though my hands aren't small, I can only stretch 1 octave -- hitting that B in the next octave with my thumb hitting the lower A isn't doable. Help. (I also don't have a sustain pedal yet, until my digital piano comes in). [/b]
Oh gosh! I tried to learn Moonlight without a sustain pedal years ago. My hand stretched to the B, but it was difficult to get it smooth. Trying to learn movement 1 without sustain is just goofy, but it can sound decent with some extreme legato. You can get acquainted with the theme, but I would not spend too much time struggling to reach that B. You better wait until you get that sustain pedal, then you will say, "Oh what was I thinking, this is so much easier." With the pedal held you will not need to keep your finger on the A. You will be able to calmly reposition your hand while the A still rings pretty.

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#553248 - 09/03/08 12:40 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
Gadzar Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1432
Loc: Mexico City
IMO, it is better to learn this piece, without sustain. Playing legato. Once you have learned it, you begin to incorporate sustain.

Using sustain from the begining can mask bad practices that are never corrected or worst of all: never noticed!
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#553249 - 09/05/08 03:11 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering?
DangerPiano Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/04/08
Posts: 8
Loc: Livingston
I like thats a great song. It's detail and everything! And I especcily love LVB
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#1686953 - 05/30/11 08:44 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering? [Re: DangerPiano]
Cristi Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/30/11
Posts: 1
Loc: Bucuresti, Romania
Hello everyone!

I'm a noob and I start to learn piano last week. My question is how can I play Moonlight Sonata on a 6 octave keyboard? I have a Yamaha PSR-E223.
Becouse watching this clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yh_wh-p0IKA&feature=related it seems that I must play on a higher octave. That is correct?

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#1686965 - 05/30/11 09:05 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata - "Official" fingering? [Re: Mile Hi Steve]
Damon Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 5918
Loc: St. Louis area
I'm pretty sure you don't need more than 6 octaves for this piece. At least not the first movement, and if you just started, you won't likely be learning the other two anytime soon. If you find yourself running out of notes, there should be a transpose function on your keyboard to move the note values up or down an octave. The clip doesn't necessarily display the keyboard properly.
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