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Sonata for piano (F minor) op. 57

Listening samples
1. Allegro assai (365 kB)
2. Andante con moto (365 kB)
3. Allegro, ma non troppo - Presto (365 kB)

1804 to first half of 1806
Dedicated to Franz Graf Brunsvik de Korompa

Beethoven made most of the sketches for this sonata in 1805 and finished it at the latest in 1806. In September he traveled to Silesia with his patron Prince Lichnowsky, to the latter's castle Grätz near Troppau. It is unclear whether he completed the sonata in Grätz, but he certainly took it with him. During his stay Prince Lichnowsky asked Beethoven to play music for French officers. The composer was so angry at this request that he fell out with his patron and departed in a hurry. An account by Paul Bigot, husband of the pianist Marie Bigot, faithfully records the events: 'During the journey, he [Beethoven] was surprised by a storm and driving rain, which soaked through the case in which he carried the Sonata in F minor which he had just composed. Following his arrival in Vienna he visited us and, laughing, showed the still wet composition to my wife, who took a closer look at it. Moved by the surprising beginning she sat down at the piano and began to play it. Beethoven had not expected this and was surprised to see that Mme Bigot was not stopped for a moment by his many erasures and changes. It was the original manuscript, which he was in the process of taking to the publisher to be engraved. When Mme Bigot had played it and asked him to give it to her, he agreed and faithfully brought it back to her after the engraving'. At this time Beethoven was very friendly with the Bigots. Paul Bigot's account is supported by the condition of the autograph. The manuscript, now located in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, actually did belong to Marie Bigot. And it also displays numerous water stains, which could have been made by rain.

The expression mark 'appassionato', meaning 'passionately', appears nowhere in the sonata. Nor did the famous nickname 'Appassionata' come from Beethoven. It was first found on the title page of a version for piano four-hands ('Sonata appassionata') published by Cranz of Hamburg in 1838. The association seems to have been successful, because the sonata has been indelibly nicknamed 'The Appassionata' ever since. (J.R.)

First editions
Originalausgabe, op. 57, Bureau des Arts et d'Industrie, 521, J. Van der Spek C op. 57
Titelauflage, op. 57, Bureau des Arts et d'Industrie, 521, C 57 / 26

Bibliographic data in library catalogue

Written documents
Brief an Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig, Wien, 26. August 1804, HCB Br 63
Brief an Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig, Wien, 10. Oktober 1804, HCB Br 309
Brief an Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig, Wien, 24. November 1804, HCB Br 310
Brief an Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig, Wien, 18. April 1805, HCB Br 66
Brief an Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig, Wien, Mai 1805, HCB Br 65

Franz Brunsvik - Fotografie eines Gemäldes von Heinrich Thugut, um 1910 ?, NE 81, Band II, Nr. 263
Franz Brunsvik und seine Ehefrau Sidonie - Fotografie eines wahrscheinlich von Bonifacius Heinrich stammenden Ölgemäldes, um 1920?, NE 81, Band VI, Nr. 1031
"Appassionata": Beethoven-Maske, kombiniert mit dem Notentext der Sonate op. 57 - Fotomontage des Ateliers Horowitz unter Verwendung einer Plastik von Josef Müller-Weidler, 1969, B 1437
Beethovens Sonate Nr. 23 (f-moll, op. 57) - Fotografie eines Gemäldes von Radu Dragomir, um 1971, Ni 42 DRAG / 1970 Drag

Bibliographic data in library catalogue

Manuscript sources in other libraries
Berlin: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Musikabteilung mit Mendelssohn-Archiv
Frankreich, Paris: Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Musique, MS-20

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E-Mail: bibliothek@beethoven-haus-bonn.de