About the Composer
Ludwig van Beethoven is considered a musical genius. He received early instruction on the piano and violin from his father (Johann) and was later taught by van den Eeden (keyboard), Franz Rovantini (viola and violin), Tobias Friedrich Pfeiffer (piano) and Johann Georg Albrechtsberger (counterpoint). It is also believed that he received brief instruction from Mozart and Haydn. Beethoven became deaf when he was in his 20's but managed to rise above it creating some of the most beautfiul and lasting music pieces in history.
About the Composition
Sonata in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 2 was composed by Beethoven in 1801. He dedicated it to his pupil, Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, with whom he fell in love. This piece earned the famous title Moonlight Sonata after a music critic named Ludwig Rellstab wrote that it reminded him of the moonlight reflected off Lake Lucerne.
The Moonlight Sonata has three movements:
- The first movement is played "adagio soustenuto" (slow sustain), and based on Beethoven's instruction, should be played senza sordini or "without dampers". It is the most well known among the three movements of the Moonlight Sonata
- The second movement is a dance and is played "allegretto" (moderately fast).
- The third movement is played "presto agitato" (very fast and exciting) and is probably the most challenging to play among the three movements.
Music Sample and Sheet Music
For this article we will concentrate on learning Moonlight Sonata, 1st movement as it is not that challenging for beginners to learn. musopen has a music clip of this piece. Listen to this hauntingly beautiful music and note the tempo by which it is played, then look at the sheet music available at the same web site. Since this piece is in C# minor, remember that there are 4 notes that are sharped, namely C#, D#, F# and G#.