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Sonata for Piano (D ma.) op. 28

Listening samples
1. Allegro (365 kB)
2. Andante (365 kB)
3. Scherzo. Allegro vivace (365 kB)
4. Rondo. Allegro, ma non troppo (365 kB)

dedicated to Joseph Reichsfreiherr von Sonnenfels

Beethoven noted the date ‘1801’ at the top of his manuscript for the Piano Sonata op. 28. The piece, also known as the ‘Pastoral’ or ‘Little Pastoral’ sonata, has been described as idyllic and close to nature. What cannot be heard in the music is Beethoven's health in the year the sonata was written. It was then that he first confessed his advancing deafness to two friends, Franz Gerhard Wegeler and Karl Amenda. On 29 June 1801 he told Wegeler, his childhood friend from Bonn and now a physician, that the ‘jealous demon’ (his poor health) was playing havoc with him, and that for three years his hearing had continuously worsened - a catastrophe for an active musician. Beethoven asked Wegeler not to share this information. A few days later, on 1 July 1801, he confided in another close friend, Karl Amenda, who had moved to the Baltic region. He admitted that his hearing had deteriorated ever since Amenda had left Vienna, and he did not know whether a cure was possible. He also asked Amenda to keep this a secret. On 16 November 1801 he again turned to Wegeler by letter, asking about a possible therapy. He told Wegeler how sad and bleak the past two years had been for him: his hearing was but a shadow of its former self, and he shunned human contact. The same letter, however, gives evidence of a strong will to live and the possibility that music and serious suffering can coexist: ‘I will tempt fate and it shall not defeat me. Oh, to live a thousand lives would be so wonderful, but a quiet life I could not bear.’ Thus Beethoven accepted his destiny, and thereafter he always managed to express hope and joy in his music. (J.R.)

Music manuscripts
Skizzen, HCB BSk 10/58
Skizzen, HCB Mh 68
Autograph, op. 28, BH 61

First editions
Originalausgabe, op. 28, Bureau des Arts et d'Industrie, 28, J. Van der Spek C op. 28
Originalausgabe, op. 28, Bureau des Arts et d'Industrie, 28; Teilscan, C 28 / 15

Joseph Edler von Sonnenfels (1732-1817) - Radierung, vermutlich von Johann David Schleuen (der Ältere), vielleicht nach einer eigenen Zeichnung, um 1770 ?, B 2506
Joseph Reichsfreiherr von Sonnenfels (1732-1817) - Fotografie eines Stich von J. Jacobs nach einem Gemälde von F. Hefner, vielleicht unter Verwendung eines Vorbildes von Johann Baptist von Lampi, um 1910 ?, NE 81, Band II, Nr. 331
Bibliographic data in library catalogue

Bibliographic data in library catalogue

Manuscript sources in other libraries
Berlin: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Musikabteilung mit Mendelssohn-Archiv
Österreich, Wien: Wienbibliothek, Musiksammlung
Schweden, Stockholm: Stiftelsen Musikkulturens främjande
Schweiz, Cologny-Genève: Fondation Martin Bodmer - Bibliotheca Bodmeriana
USA, Washington (D.C.): The Library of Congress

© Beethoven-Haus Bonn
E-Mail: bibliothek@beethoven-haus-bonn.de