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Ludwig van Beethoven

(1770-1827)

Beethoven’s Early Period

COMMENTARY

The Early Period (cont.)

IMPORTANT WORKS OF THE EARLY PERIOD

•  The first 20 Piano Sonatas (out of 32 total)

•  Piano Concertos 1-3

•  Three Piano Trios op. 1

•  Eight Violin Sonatas

•  Two cello sonatas

•  Horn Sonata

•  6 Op. 18 String Quartets

•  Symphony 1

•  Symphony 2

•  Septet

•  Ballet music for “The Creatures of Prometheus

•  Gellert” Songs op. 48 (plus at least 20 other songs)

The Beethoven Monument in Vienna

Of the first 19 opus numbers, 14 include the piano.  The piano dominates the early period because of Beethoven’s virtuoso career (not unlike Mozart in Vienna).  In the early period Beethoven asserted himself as a pianistic force to be contended with in Vienna.  Once he had achieved that, he began to work in other forms: in particular, the string quartet (op. 18 quartets were composed between 1798-1800) and symphony (Symphony no. 1, 1800 and Symphony no. 2, 1802).

The most ambitious project of the early period was the set of six op. 18 string quartets. Why?  The supremacy of Haydn (and Mozart) in this genre was known to all.  Vienna was a world center for string quartet writing.  Beethoven approached this project with great earnestness (there are many sketches extant showing how carefully he worked out his ideas for the quartets, and modified them).