Composing the Appassionata

Beethoven worked on the Appassionata at a time when French soldiers occupied Vienna.  One of Ludwig's patrons - Prince Lichnowsky - befriended some of those soldiers. 

Resenting requests to perform for such people, in general, Beethoven exploded one night when Lichnowsky asked for a similar favor.  Beethoven stormed out of the house, his Appassionata manuscript in hand.

Rain streaks still mark the original Appassionata score.

One day, during the summer of 1804, Beethoven was walking with one of his piano students, Ferdinand Ries.  At the time, Beethoven was writing his famous sonata.  Ries later recalled an episode in the life of the sonata's creation:

We went so far astray that we did not get back to Döbling until nearly 8 o'clock. He had been humming, and more often howling, always up and down, without singing any definite notes. When questioned as to what it was he answered, 'A theme for the last movement of the sonata [Op. 57] has occurred to me.' When we entered the room he ran to the pianoforte without taking off his hat. I sat down in the corner and he soon forgot all about me. He stormed for at least an hour with the beautiful finale of the sonata. Finally he got up, was surprised that I was still there and said, 'I cannot give you a lesson today, I must do some work'.

Artur Pizarro (at the BBC) provides more background about Opus 57 (the Appassionata):

The subtitle for the Sonata was the publisher's addition, but Beethoven did not for once see cause to object. It is certainly his most impassioned work and his most violent musical utterance. Although it is unlikely that a specific event inspired it, he had recently quarrelled with one of his closest friends, Stephan von Breuning, so on a local scale the sonata might be seen as Beethoven venting his anger. But the work goes further than that. It is a defiant challenge to the world, or, as the composer Hubert Parry said, "Here the human soul asked mighty questions of its God and had its reply."

Clip from “Beethoven,” a 2005 BBC television production, featuring Charles Hazlewood and starring Paul Rhys as Beethoven.

Media Credits

Clip from “Beethoven,” a 2005 BBC television production, featuring Charles Hazlewood and starring Paul Rhys as Beethoven. 

Online, courtesy BBC Worldwide Channel at YouTube.

Ursula Macfarlane

Key Cast Members:

Paul Rhys
Ludwig van Beethoven

Jack Shepherd
Joseph Haydn

David Bamber
Prince Lichnowsky

Alice Eve
Countess Giulietta Guicciardi

Nicholas Farrell
Stephan von Breuning

Tom Goodman-Hill
Anton Schindler

Gareth David-Lloyd
Older Karl

Casper Harvey
Young Karl

Sarah Hadland
Johanna van Beethoven

Christian Coulson
Archduke Rudolph

Charles Hazlewood
Himself - Presenter

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Composing the Appassionata" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Jul 17, 2018.
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