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Piano Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 81a "Les Adieux"

By 

Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven's Piano Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 81a, known as "Les Adieux" (The Farewell), was composed in 1809-1810 during the time Napoleon's armies occupied Vienna. The sonata is programmatically styled to capture the emotions of farewell, absence, and return, each reflected in its three movements: 'Das Lebewohl' (The Farewell), 'Abwesenheit' (The Absence), and 'Das Wiedersehen' (The Return). This work is distinguished by its explicit programmatic intent, a rarity for Beethoven, who imbued the sonata with a vivid narrative quality and personal expression of loss and reunion amidst the backdrop of war.

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Piano Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 81a "Les Adieux"

by:

Daniel Shapiro

In this course, Cleveland Institute of Music professor of piano Daniel Shapiro explores Beethoven's Sonata in E-flat, Op. 81a "Les Adieux." The last of Beethoven's so-called "named sonatas," this sonata is often referred to by the French translation of its first movement title "Das Lebewhol," meaning "Farewell." Shapiro reveals the historical context in which the piece was composed and demonstrates how Beethoven captures his emotional and psychological states upon the departure, absence, and return of his patron Archduke Rudolph. The sonata is an emotional journey requiring advanced control over tone, dynamics, articulation, as well as brief-but-demanding double-note and broken-octaves passagework – each of which Shapiro breaks down in detail throughout Beethoven's score.

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