Beethoven at the Piano

As lay people, we can find expert comments on the works of classical music in books, periodical publications and in CD brochure comments.  These may be rendered from a variety of viewpoints:  from that of the biographer, that of the musicologist, that of the music critic or that of the active musician.  

Here, with respect to Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas, first of all, I want to list the relevant literature that I found in the bibliographical listings of the books I consulted in creating this section.   Besides Thayer's standard biography, the authors I consulted are, in alphabetical order:  Barry Cooper (Beethoven: 2000), Joachim Kaiser (Die 32 Klaviersonaten Beethovens und ihre Interpreten: 1975), William Kinderman (Beethoven: 1995) und Maynard Solomon (Beethoven: 1977 und 1998).  

The following list is arranged in the alphabetical order of the authors of the works I found and lists the titles of the works written by them, particulars with respect to each publication and by what above-noted authors they have been listed in their respective bibliographical sections. 



Particulars with respect to the Publication

Mentioned by:

Badura-Skoda, Paul

'Noch einmal zur Frage Ais oder A in Hammerklaviersonate Opus 106 von Beethoven', Musik-Edition-Interpretation: Gedenkschrift Günter Henle, p. 53 - 81

München, Henle, 1980


Badura-Skoda, Paul und Demus, Jörg

Die Klaviersonaten von Ludwig van Beethoven

F.A. Brockhaus, Wiesbaden, 1970


Blom, Eric

Beethoven's Pianoforte Sonatas Discussed London: J.M. Dent & Sons, und New York: E.P. Dutton, 1938; New York, Da Capo, 1968



Brendel, Alfred

Form und Psychologie in Beethovens Klaviersonaten Typescript of a lecture, 1969


Brendel, Alfred Musical Thoughts and Afterthoughts London: Robson, and Princeton,  Princeton University Press, 1976 Kinderman
Brendel, Alfred Music Sounded Out.  Essays, Lectures, Interviews, Afterthoughts London, Robson and New YOrk: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1990 Kinderman
Brendel, Alfred Musik beim Wort genommen München, Piper, 1992 Kinderman
Bülow, Hans von, Hrsg. Beethovens Werke für Pianoforte Solo von op. 53 an in kritischer und instruktiver Ausgabe Stuttgart: Cotta, 1877 Kinderman
Bülow, Hans von, Hrsg. Beethoen Sonatas for Pianoforte Solo New York: Schirmer, 1894 Kinderman
Czerny, Carl Über den richtigen Vortrag der sämtlichen Beethoven'schen Klavierwerke. Herausgegeben und kommentiert von Pual Badura-Skoda.

In English translation: On the Proper Performance of All Beethoven's Works for the Piano 

Universal-Edition: 1963, 1970


Universal, 1970




Drabkin, William The Sketches for Beethoven's Piano Sonata in C Minor, Opus 111 2 Bände, Doktorarbeit

Princeton University, 1977

Fischer, Edwin Ludwig van Beethovens Klaviersonaten Insel Verlag, Wiesbaden, 1956 Kaiser
Frohlich, Martha Beethoven's 'Appassionata' Sonata Oxford: Clarendon, 1991 Kinderman
Grundmann, Herbert und Mies, Paul Studien zum Klavierspiel Beethovens und seiner Zeitgenossen H. Bouvier & Co. Verlag Bonn, 1966 Kaiser
Kinderman, William 'Thematic Contrast and Parenthetical Enclosure in Beethoven's Piano Sonatas, Opp. 109 and 111', Zu Beethoven, iii, Hrsg. Harry Goldschmidt und George Knepler, p. 43 - 59 Berlin, Verlag Neue Musik, 1988 Kinderman
Kinderman, William 'Beethoven' in Ninetheenth Centruy Piano Music, Hrsg. R. Larry Tood, p. 53-96 New York, Schirmer, 1990 Kinderman
Kinderman, William 'Integration and Narrative Design in Beethoven's Piano Sonata in A flat major, Opus 110', in Beethoven Forum, i, Hrsg. Christopher Reynolds, p. 11 0 45 Lincoln und London: University of Nebraska Press, 1992 Kinderman
Kinderman, William Essays on the Sonatas Opp. 198, 110, III and on the String Quartet in E flat Op. 127, IBeethoven: Interpretationen seiner Werke, 117, Hrs. Carl Dahlhaus, Albrecht Riethmüller und Alexander Ringer, p. 162-18; 278-91 Laaber: Laaber Verlag, 1994 Kinderman
Kinderman, William 'Beethoven's High Comic Style in Piano Sonatas of the 1790's' or 'Beethoven, Uncle Toby and the Muck-Cart-Driver', Beethoven Forum, V, p. 119-38, Deutsche Version in: Beethoven-Jahrbuch, XI Announced as an upcoming publication in 1995 Kinderman
Ladenburger, Michael, Hrsg. Eine Brüsseler Beethoven-Sammlung: Das Beethoven-Porträt von Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller; Die Originalausgaben der Klaviersonaten Beethovens  Ausstellungskatalog, Bonn, Beethovenhaus, 1991 Kinderman
Lenz, Wilhelm von Beethoven et ses trois styles St. Petersburg: Bernard, 1852-3,  Paris, Legouix, 1909 Kinderman und Solomon
Marston, Nicholas Beethoven's Piano Sonata in E, Op. 109 Oxford, 1995 Cooper
Marx, Aldolf Bernhard Anleitung zum Vortrag Beethoven'scher Klavierwerke, nach der Originalausgabe von 1863 neu herausgegeben von Eugen Schmitz Bosse Verlag, München, 1970 Kaiser
Matthews, Denis Beethoven Piano Sonatas BBC Music Guides, London, 1967 Kaiser
Meredith, William 'The Origins of Beethoven's Op. 109', MT, CXXVI, 713-16  1985 Cooper
Nagel, Willibald Beethoven und seine Klaviersonaten.   Zwei Bände.  1903-5, Zweite Ausgabe:  Hermann Beyer & Söhne, Langensalzach, 1923 und 1924 Kaiser und Solomon
Newman, W.S. The Sonata in the Classic Era, p. 501-43 Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina, 1963; zweite Ausgabe: New York, Norton, 1972 Solomon
Prod'homme, Jacques Les Sonates pour piano de Beethoven Paris: Librairie Delagrave, 1937 Solomon
Prod'homme, Jacques Die Klaviersonaten Beethovens Breitkopf & Härtel, Wiesbaden, 1948 Kaiser
Reti, Rudolph Thematic Patterns in Sonatas of Beethoven Faber and Faber, London, 1967 Cooper und Kaiser
Riemann, Hugo Ludwig van Beethovens Sämtliche Klaviersonaten 3 Bände, Max Hesses Verlag, Berlin 1919 und 1920 Kaiser
Rosen, Charles Sonata Forms New York, Norton, 1980 Kinderman
Rosenberg, Richard Die Klaviersonaten Ludwig van Beethovens 2 Bände, Urs Graf Verlag, Olten und Lausanne, 1954 Kaiser, Kinderman
Schenker, Heinrich, Hrsg. Die letzten fünf Sonaten von Beethoven:  Kritische Ausgabe mit Einführung und Erläuterung 4 Bände, Wien, Universal, 1913-21, neue Ausgabe 1971-2 Solomon
Schenker, Heinrich Erläuterungs-Ausgabe der letzten fünf Sonaten. Universal-Edition, Wien, 1913ff Kaiser
Stravinsky, Igor 'Von Backhaus bis Schnabel eine Fehlanzeige / Wie man die Klaviersonaten von Beethoven nicht spielen sollte.' Ziziert nach: DIE ZEIT, Hamburg, 13. Mai 1972 Kaiser
Tovey, Donald Francis A Companion to Beethoven's Pianoforte Sonatas The Aossicated Board of the R.A.M. and the R.C.M. London 1931 Cooper, Kaiser und Solomon
Uhde, Jürgen Beethovens Klaviermusik, Bd. 2 und 3 Sonaten 1 - 32 Reclam-Verlag Stuttgart 1970 und 1794 Kaiser und Kinderman

Vollbach, Fritz

Erläuterungen zu den Klaviersonaten Beethovens Verlag von P.J. Tonger, Köln, 1920 Kaiser


I hope that this listing of source materials referred to by the authors I consulted provides you with a first overview of relevant literature with respect to Beethoven's piano sonatas.; older titles might be either available in in well-equipped public libraries or in the antiquarian book trade, while newer titles might still be available through retail outlets.  

However, those readers who want to delve into this subject very seriously will find further selections via links from each of our sonata pages to relevant listings of the Beethoven Bibliography Database of the Ira Brilliant Centers for Beethoven Studies in San Jose, California, which we have already searched out for you and which can be accessed by clicking on each link.  

In our individual sonata pages' sections on comments of the musical contents of each sonata, you will find comments by authors such as Cooper, Kinderman and Solomon.  

After these comments, you will find a section that features comments by the German music critic Joachim Kaiser, from his work, "Beethovens 32 Klaviersonaten und ihre Interpreten". The purpose of Kaiser's book is already expressed in its German title.  He offers us an introduction to the topic, a brief overview of the musical content of each sonata, after which he discusses important insights into certain performance aspects, by the greatest pianists of the 20th century.  

In his book, Kaiser also mentions that his not "strictly scientific" overview is an attempt at lending a voice to important creative insights by these pianists.  

Kaiser's book was published in the mid-1970's.  That the time was ripe for letting such voices be heard can also be seen in the fact that the Beethoven researcher William Kinderman, whose book was published in 1995, also refers to Alfred Brendel's publications on the topic of Beethoven's piano works.  Some of Brendel's publications are also contained in the above list.  

All this excellent source material is only accessible to me by reading it.  Above and beyond that, I was also able to listen to Joachim Kaiser's excellent Radio show on Beethoven's works and their influence that was featured by the Classical Music Program of the Bavarian Radio in Munich.  

In them, I have gained a bit of insight into Kaiser's lively intellect.  For this reason, I have also tried to bring some of his ideas across in the English-language version of this section.  

The great pianist that I was able to hear, for myself and also meet and exchange a few friendly words with was Anton Kuerti, who initiated and organized the first Carl-Czerny Festival that took place in Edmonton from June 14 - 16, 2002, in Edmonton.  

As many Beethoven friends already know, Kuerti has recorded all of Beethoven's piano sonatas, as well as the Diabelli variations.  I have them here in an edition by  Analecta/Fleur de Lis, with comments Kuerti wrote, himself, and in our last section of each page, I will refer to those with respect to comment(s) from the viewpoint of an active pianist.   In his comments, Kuerti meets his goal of offering information that can be understood by everyone who can read English. 

As you can see, we are trying to offer you comments on the musical content of Beethoven's piano sonatas from various viewpoints, and we also provide you with the possibility to instantly move to the section you prefer to investigate further, should you have a predilection for a certain level of engagement. 

After this introduction with respect to the topic of comments on the musical content of Beethoven's Piano Sonatas offered here, I can refer you to the individual pages and wish you a great deal of reading enjoyment!