Music Studies 18th Century Music

Music Studies 18th Century Music
Beethoven was one of the most prominent composers of the 18th century. His artistic work had a significant impact on the development of the 18th century music. At the same time, some of his works, such as Sonata in F minor “Appassionata” revealed the original style and diversity of themes the composer conveyed to the audience through his sonata. In this regard, Sonata in F minor “Appassionata” became one of the most successful works created by Beethoven.

In fact, Sonata in F minor “Appassionata” consists of three distinct parts: Allegro Assai, Andante con moto, and Allegro, ma non troppo (Ringer, 1966). Each part has its own theme and motifs as well as original technical elements which attract the attention of the audience and affect feelings and emotions of listeners. Basically, the composer divides his Sonata into three parts and each part conveys its own message, whereas the flow of the music shows the change of the mood and themes in Sonata in F minor “Appassionata”.

The first part of Sonata in F minor “Appassionata” is Allegro Assai. This is a sonata-allegro form in 12/8 time. The main theme is conveyed in octaves. The first part consists of down and up allegro in dotted rhythm that cadences on the tonicized dominant, immediately repeated a semitone higher in G flat 9Bars 12-20). In such a way, Beethoven uses the Neapolitan chord. The main theme of the first part of the sonata is the juxtaposition of the revolt and dark forces. The first part of the sonata begins as follows:

Music Studies 18th Century Music

In such a way, the beginning prepares the audience to the further unfolding of the sonata. At the same, in the beginning the audience can trace clearly the struggle between opposing themes – the theme of revolt and the impact of dark forces. The composer conveys the theme of the fierce battle in the middle of the first part, where the revolting man comes into clashes with the dark forces, which press people and attempt to make humans obedient (Heartz, 1967). The rising tension of the struggle eventually ends up with the theme of calm tranquil, which dominates in the end of the first part of Sonata in F minor “Appassionata”. In such a way, in the course of the first part of the sonata the mood and theme of the sonata change. In addition, the first part contains the unusually long coda, containing quasi improvisational arpeggios. The composer chooses F minor and deep, dark tone of the lowest F on the piano (Bars 45-52).
The second part is Andante con moto – attacca. The second part of begins as follows:

Music Studies 18th Century Music

The beginning is warm and kind. In such a way, the composer provides the transition from the ending of the first part to the development of the second part. The calm and kindness of the beginning of the second part change steadily toward the fierce struggle in the end, when man defeats nature (Rodda, 1978). At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that the second part is the set of variations in D flat major. Its sixteen bars consists of common cords, which are set in series of four- and two-bar phrases. After that the four variations follow: 1) variation 1 is similar to the original theme, with the left hand playing on the off-beats; 2) variation 2 is an embellishment of the theme in sixteenth notes; 3) variation three is a rapid embellishment in thirty-second notes and a double-variation, with the hands switching parts; 4) variation four is a reprise of the original theme without repeats and the phrases displaced in register (Ramalingam, 1990).

Basically, the second part focuses on the struggle between man and nature and the composer uses music to show this fierce struggle and the overall victory of a man. In such a way, the composer conveys the theme of struggle and maintains it throughout the second part of Sonata in F minor “Appassionata”.

The third part of Sonata in F minor “Appassionata” is Allegro, ma non troppo – Presto. This part is almost perpetual motion which tends to ease the tension by the end of the sonata. As a result, the last part of the sonata contains a fast-paced music. Similarly to the previous parts the music is passionate and affects the audience consistently, influencing feelings and emotions of listeners. Sometimes the music is quite despairing, which reminds about the struggle between a man and nature, revolt and dark forces. Steadily, Beethoven leads the sonata toward a logical ending, which is quite calm and tranquil compared to the main part of the last part of Sonata in F minor “Appassionata”.

In the third part, Beethoven uses the Neapolitan sixth chord along with several written-out cadenzas. The movement climaxes with the faster coda, introducing a new theme, which eventually leads to extended finale cadence in F minor (Bars 20-26).

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that Sonata in F minor “Appassionata” by Beethoven is one of the most remarkable works created by the composer. The sonata conveys the theme of struggle and music reveals the fierce struggle between opposing parts, such as man and nature. In such a way, Beethoven has managed to convey his message to the audience successfully.


Beethoven, L. van. Sonata in F minor “Appassionata”.
Heartz, D. (1967). “Opera and the Periodization of 18th-century Music,” IMSCR, x Ljubjana, 160–68.
Ramalingam, V. S. (1990). "Berlioz, Beethoven, and 'One fatal remembrance.'" In Beyond the Moon: Festchrift Luther Dittmer, ed. Bryan Gillingham and Paul Merkley, Musicological Studies, vol. 53: 394-409.
Ringer, A. L. (July 1966). "The Art of the Third Guess: Beethoven to Becker to Bartok." The Musical Quarterly, 52: 304-12.
Rodda, R. E. (May 1978). "Genesis of a Symphony: Tippett's Symphony No. 3." The Music Review 39: 110-16.

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