Classical Music | Piano Music

Ludwig van Beethoven

Piano Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Op. 53 "Waldstein"  Play

Carissa Kim Piano

Recorded on 04/19/2017, uploaded on 12/14/2017

Musician's or Publisher's Notes

The “Waldstein” piano sonata is considered one of the most important among Beethoven’s thirty-two sonatas. The name “Waldstein” derives from Count Ferdinand Ernst Gabriel von Waldstein, a dear friend and patron, to whom Beethoven dedicated this work. He completed the sonata in 1804, and the ‘heroic’ effect, often found throughout his “middle period”, is prominent throughout this composition. Being in C Major, it explores different elements of the grand and noble character Beethoven so effectively employs, while pianistically incorporating new compositional techniques. 


Much of Beethoven’s piano sonatas are considered to be symphonies for the piano, and not surprisingly, the orchestral effect he brings to this work is a compositional technique that Beethoven used particularly well. The sonata begins with a unique repetitive motive which immediately changes to an unexpected harmony. The changes of harmony are constant throughout the movement which continually keeps the listener’s attention alert. 


The second movement is short and is entitled the ‘Introduzione’, but the profound nature of the movement can be heard from the first note. Originally, Beethoven had written the ‘Andante Favori’, a different and much longer work, to be the second movement; however, his colleagues and friends advised him to rewrite it because it did not flow with the rest of the sonata. Thus, he rewrote it into something drastically different and extraordinarily meaningful. With the attacca, he immediately shifts to the third movement, which has been christened ‘L’Aurora’, due to the wonderful soaring sonority of the opening chords. This eventually leads to an exciting prestissimo section filled with many technical challenges, such as the continuous trills and octave glissandi, which then leads the listener to the heroic and grandiose C Major ending.      Carissa Kim