Sometimes I don’t know whether to feel sorry for or to feel grateful for Beethoven. Practically every little student of mine wishes to play ‘Fur Elise’ and nothing else of his. They aren’t interested in knowing his name, or even that they are playing classical music, they just, boy and girl alike, want to play the opening melody to the little love song. Would he be proud to have a little piece of his sit so firmly in the hearts of millions of children, or would he be irritated? I can imagine him being irritated.
The gentleman wrote so many timeless classics and it is that little ditty that captures the imagination of so many. To be fair, it does, several years later into their studies open up the possibility of other pieces of his, and for that I am grateful every time I yet again have to work with the little infinite loop. One such piece is the ‘Pathetique.’
It is a well known staple now, but can you imagine a gruff young Beethoven performing that piece live for the first time after a couple of decades of lovely little Haydn and Mozart sonatas. I can imagine half the audience wigging out.
My first idea was to find one melody from each of the great composers that I can use for fugal improvisation. I will probably scratch that idea soon as I have already found several melodies of certain composers I wish to use before even looking at others. Beethoven will probably be a rich source of melodies I am already anticipating.
I love the Pathetique sonata, but I especially love the final movement. I understand it is in a minor key filled with pathos but I find this theme rather ebullient and full of life. It was incredibly fun to pass this theme around, playing the melody in various keys in either hand at about the fastest tempo I could handle. I tried making several recordings of this piece using several melodies from the final movement but finally deciding it was enough to use only the main theme from the opening of the movement. I find it such a perfectly formed melody creating the perfect mood to wrap up the beloved Beethoven staple.
Here is a nice and energetic interpretation of the piece.