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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: What is your favorite piece by Beethoven?

December 16, 2011 at 5:49 PM

Happy birthday to Ludwig van Beethoven!

He would be 241 years old on Saturday, if he were still alive. In so many ways, he still is!

What is your favorite piece by Beethoven? Since, very obviously, I couldn't exactly list every work by this prolific composer on the poll, I have listed some genres, and you can describe your favorite work in the comments. Vote first, then I'll share my thoughts!

As for my thoughts, Schroeder says it well:

As gorgeous as is the Beethoven Violin Concerto, Beethoven is a piano hero. Some of his finest works were his piano sonatas, and yes, I love the popular ones: the Moonlight Sonata, the Appassionata, the Pathetique (Billy Joel, you thief! note:1:19), the Waldstein… Being a frustrated pianist (I always wished I could play but never achieved fluency on the instrument) I absolutely love the works that combine my two favorite instruments: the violin/piano sonatas.

I love all such sonatas, but especially this one, Op. 12, No. 3 in E flat major (perhaps because I played it). Here it is, and please tell us about your favorite Beethoven!

From Jim Hastings
Posted on December 16, 2011 at 6:06 PM
I voted OTHER, because I really don't have a favorite. Herr Beethoven left us many works I greatly admire -- different ones for different reasons. His symphonies come right to mind; so do his piano sonatas, VC, overtures, quartets, and the opera Fidelio.
From Sara McDowell
Posted on December 16, 2011 at 6:18 PM
His choral masterworks are often overlooked. The Mass in C Major and the Missa Solemnis in D are incredible works. Having performed both works chorally as well as orchestrally, they must top my list :)
From Emily Grossman
Posted on December 16, 2011 at 7:17 PM
Fur Elise is by far the public vote.

I prefer the symphony format because of its expansive qualities.

From Marsha Weaver
Posted on December 16, 2011 at 7:23 PM
Second movement of the Seventh Symphony. I get goosebumps and tears all at once!!
From Tom Holzman
Posted on December 16, 2011 at 7:31 PM
Marsha - I recently heard fabulous jazz musician Joshua Redman do an improvisation on that movement. With his other pieces, he would say that he composed it or someone else composed it. With this one, he said "I wish I could tell you I composed this one, but I didn't."

My favorite Beethoven is the Archduke Trio. Always has been, always will be. My parents gave me the middle name Ludwig after guess who.

From Shen-Han Lin
Posted on December 16, 2011 at 7:58 PM
I absolutely love Beethoven 4th violin sonata in A minor played by Heifetz
From Anne Horvath
Posted on December 16, 2011 at 9:02 PM

I don't care for "Wellington's Victory".

THAT was easy. (Smile)

Top favorite picks are:

Symphony #3
Piano/Violin Sonata #8, #9, #10
Archduke and Ghost Trios
Violin Concerto
Piano Concertos #3, #4, #5
Appassionata and Pathetique Piano Sonatas
All the String Quartets. That's right, all of them!

I pulled out my Gilels 9 CD set of Beethoven's piano sonatas for my listening stack this weekend. Life is good.

From elise stanley
Posted on December 17, 2011 at 4:01 AM
Emily - you nailed it.

OK so I'm a bit biased.

Second would have to be Pathetique for the same perhaps a bit pathetic reason of hearing Shroeder play it (I once tracked down the pianist's name that played the recital on the famous peanuts cartoon). I'd heard a lot of classical music by that point - but Shroeder was the first to actually make me listen.

From John Gibson
Posted on December 17, 2011 at 4:26 AM
Beethoven Piano Sonatas are in my opinion some of the most genius works out there. They really tell a story, from the first opening arpeggio of Op. 2 No. 1 to the solemnity of the last C chord in Op. 111. My absolute favorite works by him are the 3rd movement of the Waldstein, the Sonata Op. 101, the string quartet Op. 59 No. 1 and the Grosse Fuge Op. 133. His music touches me more than most others. For some reason, I just feel like he is one of the few composers whose music completely exudes what humanity is.
From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on December 17, 2011 at 7:09 AM
Anne, me, too--all the string quartets. They're what made me fall in love with the violin.
From Marty Dalton
Posted on December 17, 2011 at 7:40 AM
Let's not forget that Beethoven invented Jazz in the op. 111 piano sonata.
From Julian Stokes
Posted on December 17, 2011 at 8:19 AM
I had to say Sonatas as it was hearing and seeking out the Moonlight which led me on a tortuous route back to the violin and a greater embracing of the musical side of my nature.
From Marsha Weaver
Posted on December 17, 2011 at 1:50 PM
Tom -- Normally I'm not into jazz, but wish I could have heard the performance you mentioned!
From Bart Meijer
Posted on December 17, 2011 at 2:25 PM
The sonata op. 96 for violin and piano.
From marjory lange
Posted on December 17, 2011 at 5:52 PM
His string writing (whether sonata, symphony, or chamber music) is out of this world. favorite is whatever I'm listening to/playing at any given moment.
From Patrick Tinney
Posted on December 17, 2011 at 11:43 PM
There is so much to love.

I really hate to isolate one piece or movement.

With over fifty years of listening to the fifth I still feel like I should stand or something during the second movement.

Oh and those four voices near the end of the ninth, yum, yum.

From Lisa Van Sickle
Posted on December 18, 2011 at 3:40 AM
He wrote so many wonderful pieces, but the 9th symphony really is the crowning glory. Each movement is stunning. The way the first movement just sneaks in, the rhythm and drive of the second, it just doesn't get any better. For any string player, the third movement is the epitome of Beethoven's glorious slow movements, and the finale is hair-raising.
From Richard Watson
Posted on December 18, 2011 at 2:54 PM
For me, the quartet cycle is the greatest single artistic achievement of mankind, standing head and shoulders above Shakespeare, Leonardo, or whoever might be the distant second.

From The Weekend Vote
Posted on December 18, 2011 at 9:02 PM
I love that second movement from the 7th symphony as well. Ahhh...
Posted on December 19, 2011 at 2:00 PM
-9th Symphony

-3rd Symphony "Eroica", Finale

-Piano Sonata Op. 111, No. 32

-Piano Concerto No. 5 "Emperor", 2nd Movement

-Triple Concerto for Violin, Piano and Cello, 2nd Movement

From Paul Deck
Posted on December 19, 2011 at 8:13 PM
Sorry to be a bit boring here but the Piano Sonatas (preferably for me the more complex later sonatas) are the brightest jewels in his dazzling crown. The symphonies, violin concerto, and violin-and-piano sonatas are brilliant too, so I wouldn't blame anyone for having chosen them.
From Bernice Stochek Friedson
Posted on December 20, 2011 at 12:27 AM
Beethoven's only opera, FIDELIO, is a unique work, in a way surpassing all others. And as a violinist, there is a joy I feel whenever playing the "Spring" Sonata. It's simplicity and purity are almost Mozartian.
From John Pierce
Posted on December 20, 2011 at 2:35 AM
I said Concerto. Even though this is, I'd say the Emperor Concerto. What a barnburner!

But then there's Symphony no 1. And 2. And 3. And 4. And 5. And 6 (Ahhhhhhhhhhhh). How about 7, especially the slow movement? 8 is good. And with my Choral background, no 9.

It's easier to name the few pieces I don't like. Except that it takes so long to search for them, they are so rare. :-)

From Bruce Goldstein
Posted on December 22, 2011 at 3:47 AM
My favorite symphony of all is the 7th. 2nd movement is beyond compare. Emperor concerto and the violin concerto among the great pieces in the literature.

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