Beethoven – Piano Sonata 1 in f, Op. 2/1 (1795)

In his exceptional analysis, pianist András Schiff explains that, although Beethoven took very little from Mozart, he took much from Haydn, in particular how to build a work from small cells, and how to integrate and sustain asymmetry against symmetry. He discusses Beethoven’s preference for rhetoric over song (as similarly, I note, Bach prefers the didactic over the melodic), and his advanced use of dynamics.

András Schiff (Courtesy: artsfuse.org)

András Schiff (Courtesy: artsfuse.org)

For artists of today, Schiff emphasizes, and I agree, that the demonstration of mastery must, in the first instance, go beyond the announcement and conclusion of the artistic material, to an innovative development of the material in the middle of the work that lies between its beginning and its end; and, that if one is going to publish a work in a given genre, it will be less than worthwhile to do so if it does not, at minimum, stand comparison with its forebears; but better, when it can validly differentiate itself from them with a newness that is demonstrably interesting, adept, and accomplished.

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