April 30th, 2018
Beethoven Piano Sonata Op. 49 No.2, 1st movement Formal Analysis
As a Classical composer Beethoven leans towards the dramatic element in his music. He uses beautiful memorable melodies, but contrasts them with tempo changes, key changes, dynamic changes, etc. to add in that intensity. Many have said he does this because of his hearing loss but I think this is more of a stylistic approach for him in this time period. Beethoven knows of all the beautiful and well-known music of his time but knows that there must be something about his music that distinguishes him from other composers. I think drama and tension alongside the beautiful memorable melodies of his music are a great way to make sure you are the one listeners remember. I want this analysis of Op.49, No.2 to shed light on how Beethoven creates drama and tension in his music while keeping the beautiful melodies that are characteristic of the Classical period. In the first movement of the Beethoven Sonata No.20, Op. 49 No.2 the development and altered transition of the recapitulation use motives from the exposition’s first four measures and key changes to build drama and tension.
The exposition’s main theme is soft and pleasant at first and then comes the buildup to the more turbulent subordinate theme before Beethoven initiates the drama of the development section. The development presents its own ideas while still using motives from the first four measures of the piece. The development starts in D minor with the same opening triplet motive as the main theme of the exposition transposed up a perfect fifth, and Beethoven uses this referral to the main theme to initiate the drama of this piece. Beethoven then builds the tension of this section even more by using the stepwise quarter notes and triplet motives from measures 1 and 2 to give an eerily quiet moment in E minor back to home key G major for the recapitulation. Compared to the first time we see the stepwise quarter note motive in measure 2, it is now transposed up a whole step when it is used in measure 54. The second time in measure 55 there is an inverted version of the same stepwise quarter note motive. The last time in measure 57 the motive is transposed up a major sixth from the original motive in measure 2. These motives are used to remind us of the main theme and then grab our attention with key changes and standing on the dominant in E minor for 4 measures before transitioning back to the home key G major
Beethoven then brings us back to the smooth flowing sounds of the main theme in the recapitulation. The return is short lived because then we get completely new material that initiates the...