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#2144904 - 09/05/13 10:17 PM Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13812
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Here it is - a dedicated thread for the discussion of Jonathan Biss's online lecture series on the Beethoven piano sonatas.

Sign up and watch them here:

https://www.coursera.org/course/beethovensonatas

Also, I plan on keeping this particular thread fairly tightly moderated. Please limit the discussion to the history and performance of the Beethoven piano sonatas.

Those needing scores can find them on IMSLP here:

I would suggest referencing the edition by Heinrich Schenker, as it is the closest thing on IMSLP to an urtext edition and it has measure numbers. (Please note that in this edition, measure numbers appear at the ends of the measures they refer to. It's one of Schenker's quirks, and knowing this little fact can make looking things up a little less confusing.)

ENJOY! laugh
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#2144908 - 09/05/13 10:26 PM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Kreisler]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Thank you very much for posting this thread, Kreisler! I'm signed up for it and have finished all of the videos for this week's lecture. I'll look at more aspects of this tomorrow. smile

Right now, I'm learning Op. 2, No. 3. It's such a tricky piece, but the second movement is incredibly beautiful and wonderful! Note how the opening motive of the second movement is basically the same as the opening motive of the first movement. wink

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#2144997 - 09/06/13 12:47 AM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Kreisler]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3183
Loc: Maine
From the first lecture, what stood out to you most? Was anything new to you? Did you disagree with anything?

I'm generally familiar with music of Bach, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven (although certainly not to the degree any of the Pianist Corner regulars are), and the general timespan and influences, and with sonata form, but the way it was put together and illuminated with details was new to me.

The most standout piece of information for me was the idea of the lightweight final movement, and that over the course of the sonatas (and I suspect his other compositions too) Beethoven was grappling with and overturning that tradition. I think of the 9th Symphony in connection with this.
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#2145027 - 09/06/13 01:55 AM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Kreisler]
synergy543 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/11
Posts: 111
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Also, I plan on keeping this particular thread fairly tightly moderated. Please limit the discussion to the history and performance of the Beethoven piano sonatas.

I understand. Although, (and I'm not trying to be smarmy here) I assume we also talk about the Beethoven Fantasia in G minor, Op.77?

Why did Jonathan Biss included this in his class on the 32 Sonatas? In other words, what is its relationship to the sonatas? Any ideas?

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#2145164 - 09/06/13 09:56 AM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Kreisler]
Sam S Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 1424
Loc: Georgia, USA
I was shocked that only one of Beethoven's Sonatas was performed in his lifetime at a public concert. I understand that pianists performed their own music at concerts, at least until Liszt and Clara Schumann came along - is that right?

So Beethoven published the Sonatas, people bought the music, and then they played them at home or at private parties? I have to keep reminding myself that there were no recordings, so only very few people actually heard one of the Sonatas in his lifetime.

Sam

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#2145195 - 09/06/13 11:08 AM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: synergy543]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13812
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: synergy543
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Also, I plan on keeping this particular thread fairly tightly moderated. Please limit the discussion to the history and performance of the Beethoven piano sonatas.

I understand. Although, (and I'm not trying to be smarmy here) I assume we also talk about the Beethoven Fantasia in G minor, Op.77?

Why did Jonathan Biss included this in his class on the 32 Sonatas? In other words, what is its relationship to the sonatas? Any ideas?


Yes, discussions of any related works are fine. I expect the variations, symphonies, string quartets, the Andante Favori, etc. will all make appearances, as will works by other composers (probably Mozart, Haydn, Dussek, and Czerny.)
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#2145199 - 09/06/13 11:13 AM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Kreisler]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7707
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Originally Posted By: synergy543
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Also, I plan on keeping this particular thread fairly tightly moderated. Please limit the discussion to the history and performance of the Beethoven piano sonatas.

I understand. Although, (and I'm not trying to be smarmy here) I assume we also talk about the Beethoven Fantasia in G minor, Op.77?

Why did Jonathan Biss included this in his class on the 32 Sonatas? In other words, what is its relationship to the sonatas? Any ideas?


Yes, discussions of any related works are fine. I expect the variations, symphonies, string quartets, the Andante Favori, etc. will all make appearances, as will works by other composers (probably Mozart, Haydn, Dussek, and Czerny.)

Letter of the law alert, synergy. ha

Just don't talk about what you had for breakfast this morning. grin
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Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2145301 - 09/06/13 01:57 PM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Kreisler]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3832
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Does anyone know the current enrollment size of this course?
_________________________
Schubert: Bb Impromptu D.935/3; Mozart: D minor concerto; Chopin: first Ballade

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#2145317 - 09/06/13 02:42 PM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: beet31425]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7707
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Does anyone know the current enrollment size of this course?

32K, apparently. grin
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2145387 - 09/06/13 04:51 PM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Polyphonist]
synergy543 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/11
Posts: 111
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Just don't talk about what you had for breakfast this morning. grin

Well, since you asked, here's what I've been digesting...
Two very useful reference sources for this class full of fun/useful links and other relevant goodies.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/147302948797229/

https://www.accredible.com/9872

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#2145435 - 09/06/13 07:16 PM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Sam S]
jmcintyre Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/10
Posts: 228
Loc: Wash. DC area
Thanks, Kreisler. I look forward to PWers' perspectives.

Originally Posted By: Sam S
I was shocked that only one of Beethoven's Sonatas was performed in his lifetime at a public concert.


So was I. And the string quartets were seldom performed as well, right? I've been thinking about how that may have enabled him to depart from tradition and take more risks. At the time, the sonata's place was in the home -- might he have preferred it that way, as a sort of compositional laboratory within which he was able to work out the new language he needed to articulate his vision? (Apologies for all the mixed metaphors.)


Edited by jmcintyre (09/06/13 07:20 PM)
Edit Reason: Forgot my manners.
_________________________
I'd rather be practicing wink
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Now: Brahms Op. 118, Bach French Suite #5

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#2145440 - 09/06/13 07:36 PM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: jmcintyre]
DameMyra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 1983
Loc: South Jersey
Originally Posted By: jmcintyre
Thanks, Kreisler. I look forward to PWers' perspectives.

Originally Posted By: Sam S
I was shocked that only one of Beethoven's Sonatas was performed in his lifetime at a public concert.


So was I. And the string quartets were seldom performed as well, right? I've been thinking about how that may have enabled him to depart from tradition and take more risks. At the time, the sonata's place was in the home -- might he have preferred it that way, as a sort of compositional laboratory within which he was able to work out the new language he needed to articulate his vision? (Apologies for all the mixed metaphors.)

It seems that we only have a record of the one sonata being performed during Beethoven's lifetime. There may have been other performances that we have no historical record of. And what about those sonatas that might have been performed in small private concerts? Op. 2, No. 3 seems to have been written specifically for the young Beethoven to show off his skills as a virtuoso.
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#2145497 - 09/06/13 10:38 PM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Kreisler]
kippesc Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/30/09
Posts: 407
Loc: United States
The accredible link provided by synergy543 above is very good, providing Biss's performance in his practice studio of sonata no. 5. The link below is a short video where Biss talks about some of his practice habits as he has tackled the project of recording all the Beethoven sonatas.

http://www.npr.org/event/music/155236772/in-practice-jonathan-biss

https://www.accredible.com/9872
_________________________
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Yamaha AvantGrand N2
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#2145883 - 09/07/13 04:59 PM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Kreisler]
synergy543 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/11
Posts: 111
In Lecture 1-5, Jonathan Biss suggests listening to some additional sonatas, one of them being the Haydn Sonata in C major, Hob. 16_50. I have to admit that I've avoided Haydn and am not familiar with much of his music. However, on listening to this Sonata, and thinking of the context, in terms of influence on Beethoven and general development of the sonata form, this was most enlightening to me. I feel embarrassed that I've been in the dark all this time about, what now seems to me, very important and intriguing music. Whether Beethoven was influenced by this piece directly or not, its clear that the influence of Haydn was not as small as Beethoven implied. Its thrilling to discover new gems such as this. I'm so glad I'm taking this course.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYTkOgmqBvg

I think this piece was written in 1773 as far as I can tell from the chronological lists of Haydn's works, making it even more interesting as it was written before Beethoven's time (well, 3yrs old - so maybe he didn't have too much influence on the world yet).


Edited by synergy543 (09/07/13 05:00 PM)

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#2145909 - 09/07/13 05:39 PM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Kreisler]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13812
Loc: Iowa City, IA
It should also be noted that some binary forms do restate the opening theme in the tonic key. When this happens, it's usually referred to as a 'rounded' binary form. Some of Haydn's early sonatas are very brief and the relationship to binary can be more evident.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#2145911 - 09/07/13 05:41 PM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: synergy543]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6648
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: synergy543
In Lecture 1-5, Jonathan Biss suggests listening to some additional sonatas, one of them being the Haydn Sonata in C major, Hob. 16_50. I have to admit that I've avoided Haydn and am not familiar with much of his music. However, on listening to this Sonata, and thinking of the context, in terms of influence on Beethoven and general development of the sonata form, this was most enlightening to me. I feel embarrassed that I've been in the dark all this time about, what now seems to me, very important and intriguing music. Whether Beethoven was influenced by this piece directly or not, its clear that the influence of Haydn was not as small as Beethoven implied. Its thrilling to discover new gems such as this. I'm so glad I'm taking this course.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYTkOgmqBvg

I think this piece was written in 1773 as far as I can tell from the chronological lists of Haydn's works, making it even more interesting as it was written before Beethoven's time (well, 3yrs old - so maybe he didn't have too much influence on the world yet).


It happens to be my favorite Haydn sonata. It's a lot of fun to play. It was actually written in 1794 and is probably the last of Haydn's piano sonatas.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

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#2145944 - 09/07/13 06:43 PM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Kreisler]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13812
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I finished watching the first lecture and was struck by the incomplete picture he painted of "How Things Were."

Listening to Biss, one might get the impression that Mozart and Haydn were the only important sonata composers of the 18th century and that Beethoven was solely responsible for the subsequent advances in piano writing. While Haydn and Mozart are the most highly regarded today, there was an extremely important group of composer-pianists working in London who were contemporaneous with Beethoven. This "London" school included pianists like Cramer, Dussek, Clementi, and Field. Beethoven would certainly have been familiar with these pianists and was influenced by them a great deal.

I mention this because Biss makes a point of saying that the later movements of the sonata began to gain much more weight under Beethoven's hand. However, if one looks at the Op. 9 and Op. 10 sonatas by Dussek (published in 1789, six years before Beethoven's Op. 2 appeared), one can see last movements already gaining importance. Take for example the stormy end to Dussek's G minor sonata, Op. 10#2:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFjcT6eG7_A

(Interestingly enough, this sonata has only two movements. The first serves as something of an overture to the second.)

Another example would be Clementi's Op. 25#5, a very forward-looking three movement sonata, almost romantic in scope. The first movement is Allegro con espressione, the second is Lento e patetico, and the third is a weighty, fiery Presto. And it's in F# minor. The sonata appeared in 1790, also well ahead of Beethoven's Op. 2.

I say none of this to diminish the stature of Haydn, Mozart, or Beethoven, but instead to elevate the stature of their contemporaries.

Biss's first lecture was titled "How Things Were." Being born 10 and 18 years before Beethoven and having been widely performed and published before the great master, Dussek and Clementi were a VERY important part of "how things were."
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#2145962 - 09/07/13 07:10 PM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Kreisler]
Serge Marinkovic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/09
Posts: 344
Loc: United States
But during Beethoven's lifetime piano recitals did not exist. Pianist would play for one another at each other homes or as part as a religious service but it was not common place for piano recitals until Chopin and Liszt some 15 years after Beethoven's death. I did not know this until the splendid Biss lecture.
_________________________
Serge P. Marinkovic, MD


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#2145992 - 09/07/13 08:15 PM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Kreisler]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13812
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Solo piano recitals did not exist, but concerts that included piano music definitely did. Concert series like the Concert Spirituel in France and the Bach-Abel concerts in London were popular in the mid 18th century.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#2147558 - 09/10/13 12:21 PM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Kreisler]
bellamusica Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/07/10
Posts: 369
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I finished watching the first lecture and was struck by the incomplete picture he painted of "How Things Were."

Listening to Biss, one might get the impression that Mozart and Haydn were the only important sonata composers of the 18th century and that Beethoven was solely responsible for the subsequent advances in piano writing. While Haydn and Mozart are the most highly regarded today, there was an extremely important group of composer-pianists working in London who were contemporaneous with Beethoven. This "London" school included pianists like Cramer, Dussek, Clementi, and Field. Beethoven would certainly have been familiar with these pianists and was influenced by them a great deal.

. . .

Biss's first lecture was titled "How Things Were." Being born 10 and 18 years before Beethoven and having been widely performed and published before the great master, Dussek and Clementi were a VERY important part of "how things were."


I wondered the same thing, but assumed that he left it out due to time constraints and possibly to cater to an audience which must contain many thousands of people who probably never heard of Haydn, much less Clementi or Dussek.

I agree it is rather irksome that these other composers are not even mentioned, though.

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#2150127 - 09/14/13 04:33 PM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Kreisler]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3183
Loc: Maine
This week's assignment is to compare and contrast your choice of early sonata with sonata #4, opus 7.

If you're doing the assignments, which sonata have you chosen and why?

I have chosen sonata #1 in F minor, for not much more reason than that it's first (apart from Opus 49).
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#2150269 - 09/14/13 10:02 PM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Kreisler]
FSO Offline
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Registered: 04/03/12
Posts: 854
Loc: UK, Brighton
I chose the Pathetique simply because I really like it and, of course, because it's one Gould recorded....shush you laugh
Xxx
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#2150319 - 09/15/13 12:55 AM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Kreisler]
ChrisKeys Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 1277
Loc: Dallas, TX
I chose Op 27 No 1 because it's such a contrast to Op 7. And I really like it! grin

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#2150322 - 09/15/13 01:08 AM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Kreisler]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7707
Loc: New York City
I think the point is not which sonata you chose, but how good your analysis and comparison is.

By the way, is Mr Biss going to be grading 32 thousand homework assignments every week? grin
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Polyphonist

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#2150337 - 09/15/13 01:54 AM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Kreisler]
jmcintyre Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/10
Posts: 228
Loc: Wash. DC area
Opus 14, No. 2, because it's the only one I have performed.

Anyone else still working on the report? I'm so slow when it comes to writing.
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#2150340 - 09/15/13 02:05 AM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: ChrisKeys]
jmcintyre Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/10
Posts: 228
Loc: Wash. DC area
Originally Posted By: ChrisKeys
I chose Op 27 No 1 because it's such a contrast to Op 7. And I really like it! grin


Chris, are you sure that was on the "first thirteen" list according to Prof. Biss? I thought it included Nos. 1-11 and the two Leichte Sonaten, based on composition date rather than opus order.
_________________________
I'd rather be practicing wink
Kawai K-3, Roland FP-7F
Now: Brahms Op. 118, Bach French Suite #5

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#2150458 - 09/15/13 09:11 AM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Polyphonist]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
I think the point is not which sonata you chose, but how good your analysis and comparison is.

By the way, is Mr Biss going to be grading 32 thousand homework assignments every week? grin


No, it's peer-graded. That makes it hit-or-miss, but oh well...

And you're right, but since each sonata is so individual, it's fun discussing which one we picked/why we picked it.

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#2150533 - 09/15/13 01:10 PM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Kreisler]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3183
Loc: Maine
I think the main value of the assignment is taking the time to think about it. Any feedback you get from the peer grading will be gravy.

[ETA: jmcintyre, I've barely started on the assignment. I've been listening to the sonatas (my choice #1 and Biss' choice #4) and now have to turn to the score to check my ideas. I have notes from the lectures so I'll be going through those point by point asking myself "same or different?" But I'm a fast writer, once I have my thoughts and evidence assembled.]

Polyphonist, I find it of interest why people choose the sonata they chose. Hence my question. After the due date, I'll be interested to hear what people discovered that they felt was interesting or notable.


Edited by PianoStudent88 (09/15/13 01:17 PM)
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#2150899 - 09/15/13 10:48 PM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: ChrisKeys]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3832
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: ChrisKeys
I chose Op 27 No 1 because it's such a contrast to Op 7. And I really like it! grin

For what it's worth Chris,

You're supposed to pick one of the early sonatas, what he calls "the first 13 sonatas". It's a bit confusing the way he's referring to the numbering, but he means sonatas 1-11, 19, or 20. (19 and 20 were written in the same time period as the first 11.)

op.27/1 (sonata #13) is one of the "experimental" sonatas he's going to be talking about in the third week.


-J
_________________________
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#2150937 - 09/15/13 11:49 PM Re: Jonathan Biss Beethoven Course [Re: Orange Soda King]
jmcintyre Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/10
Posts: 228
Loc: Wash. DC area
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
And you're right, but since each sonata is so individual, it's fun discussing which one we picked/why we picked it.


So what'd you pick, OSK?
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