Piano Sonata no. 14, c sharp minor - Op. 27 no
Background of the Moonlight Sonata
The original title of the sonata is “Quasi una fantasia”
(It. almost a fantasy). The popular title of Moonlight
Sonata actually didn’t come about until several
years after Beethoven’s death. In 1836, German music
critic, Ludwig Rellstab wrote that the sonata reminded
him of the reflected moonlight off Lake Lucerne. Since
then, Moonlight Sonata has remained the “official”
unofficial title of the sonata.
Beethoven composed the famous Moonlight Sonata in 1801
and dedicated it to Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, a pupil
of Beethoven. Shortly after their first few lessons, the
two fell in love. After dedicating the Moonlight Sonata,
it is believed that Beethoven proposed to her.
Although she was willing to accept Beethoven’s proposal,
forbiddance by one of her parents prevented her from marrying
Notes on the Moonlight Sonata
The Moonlight Sonata is divided into three separate parts.
The first movement of the Moonlight Sonata is easily the
most well known. The famous mysterious, almost haunting
melody is dark and whisper like. The form of the first
movement is a sort of “condensed” sonata.
In other words, it plays the main melody, develops it,
and then plays it again very similar to how it was originally
The Second Movement
The second movement of the Moonlight Sonata is in the
form of a scherzo (a comic composition, usually fast-moving
and used in the place of a minuet and trio during Beethoven’s
time). The key of the second movement is D flat major,
which is unrelated to the overall key of c# minor.
The Third Movement
The third movement is completely different from the previous
two movements. Its rapid progressions from note to note
are invigorating and powerful. The third movement of the
Moonlight Sonata is actually marked piano, but Beethoven’s
use of sforzandos and fortissimos make the piece actually
sound as if the overall dynamic was fortissimo.