Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15.
As a matter of fact, Piano Concerto No. 1, is not the first of
Beethoven’s five chronologically numbered piano concertos. It was written in
1798 after Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 19. Only because of the
lower opus number has it been placed as the first piano concerto. Stylistically
both concertos belong to the period when Beethoven was active both as a concert
virtuoso and as a composer- writing the works primarily for his own use. These
concertos were greatly inspired by Beethoven’s contact with Mozart thereby
incorporating many Mozartian features. It is more than likely that Beethoven
himself played the C major concerto at its first public performance. The program
of his first concert at the Vienna Court Theatre on April 2, 1800 seems to have
included this work. The General Musical Journal reviewed the evening’s
performance with the comment: “At last Herr Beethoven, too, was given the
theatre and this was easily the most interesting Academy for a long time. He
played a new piano concerto of his own composition which is full of beautiful
moments – particularly the first two movements.”
This comment is especially significant
because the third movement, allegro scherzando, with its accentuated
theme wittily introduced by the piano, continues in what becomes a boisterous,
effervescing and cheerful finale,
thereby breaking completely from
what one was accustomed to in those days. The first movement, allegro con
brio, opens in a conventional way with a prolonged tutti that decides
the slightly less original character of this opening movement. The second
movement, largo, is on the whole full of atmosphere, novel effects, and
of a perfection pointing ahead to the already mentioned brilliant finale
that provides a most effective ending.
Piano Sonata No. 3, Op.
Beethoven left Bonn for Vienna in 1792 he had already been busy composing piano
sonatas (dedicating three to Count Waldstein) and had started his three piano
trios, Op.1 and Op.2. He dedicated Op.1 to his
benefactor at the time, Prince Lichnowsky, and Op.2 to his teacher, Joseph
Haydn. Beethoven continued to compose piano sonatas throughout his entire career
and these works played an important role in moving the piano away from the
classical chamber style and more into the Lisztian style of romance and passion.
His sonatas did not necessarily get bigger or better as there are
movements of immense power and beauty in the early sonatas. However, as a
result of the most careful thought, he wrote his later works in a
meticulous and intellectual way which, in piano works, has never been
matched by any other composer.