techniques and executions while playing beethoven

July 3, 2013 at 04:31 AM · im playing beethoven violin sonata no 2 currently, and i was curious on how to execute certain passages . how should the tone and quality of the overall piece be? how should you end certain a phrase? how to do techniques such as slurs and ornaments?

Replies (20)

July 3, 2013 at 02:55 PM · Hi Joseph,

Why don't you listen to some recordings by various violinists to get some ideas? Your question is pretty broad. It is sort of like, "how do I learn calculus."

July 3, 2013 at 10:36 PM · ....and spaces after, but not before, full stops, so. :-)

July 3, 2013 at 11:32 PM · Congratulations, Joseph. You have posed some important questions. You will be developing and refining the answers for your whole life as a violinist. Every time you practice these works you will add to your concept of how fast, how loud, how long, how much bow, etc. etc. Also every time you listen to these pieces you will build your concept. And by extension, anytime you play or listen to anything, you will learn things which can apply to your Beethoven sonata performance. All that is necessary is your desire and willingness to use every musical moment as raw material for your artistry.

July 3, 2013 at 11:38 PM · "how should the tone and quality of the overall piece be.."

Why would it not always be beautiful?

July 4, 2013 at 04:07 AM · Greetings,

in a general sense I would be thinking about the kind of sound I want to produce. It's hard to define in words but compared to a Mozart sonata I would want a slightly denser, dark sound a lot of the time. In the Mozart I would be tryingu to use bowing whigh might be slightly faster moving and airy. I am reluctant to say use less bow because one should generally not restrict bowing, but in the Beethoven I might often be using a slightly slower bow stroke a little closer to the bridge.

If I did a recital or heard one in which a Beethoven and Mozart sonata were played with exactly the same kind of sound irrespective of other stylistic differences I would consider that very unsatisfactory.



July 7, 2013 at 06:16 PM · yes,

im really sorry for the vagueness of the question..i did not really know how to phrase the question with detail. i just wanted to know what beethoven and his music meant to you, personally.

im not sure if that cleared up anything either :I

July 7, 2013 at 07:43 PM · Mozart is playful, Beethoven is conviction!

Well, this is what I hear from the artists who possibly themselves got inspired by the life and personalities of these composers... after all they wrote what they are on paper :)

Still, Beethoven is not Shostakovich concerto! One can be playful with a little conviction, why not hihi

I may be wrong this is only my view...

July 7, 2013 at 09:20 PM · just don't get convicted for being playful...

July 10, 2013 at 03:05 PM · If you're talking about Opus 12 No 2, I know EXACTLY what you mean! I HATE Heifetz's version of the last movement - The last two notes of the first phrase need to be poised, graceful and gentle, not bang bang (and in the later darampa Paaa Paaa Paaa darampa Paaa Paaa Paa, I like to lengthen the second C). And the second movement has a dramatic poignancy that it shares only with the second movements of the Opus 10 No 3 Piano Sonata and, to a lesser extent, the Opus 9 No 2 String Trio; there's really nothing quite like them. That top C in the middle of the second movement needs to tear your heart out, fast bow and fast vibrato and slightly less pressure. All the best with it all!

July 13, 2013 at 09:43 PM · Well, I'm still ploughing though the torrent of responses to my Bach largo question John.

I will admit to usually only responding myself if I feel I have something to help, although this time it is to add a response to your response.

Perhaps I should have asked how to do a christian performance of the Bach largo.

July 13, 2013 at 10:04 PM · Greetings,

I think the lack of response may have more to do with insecurity about what to adress except the broadest generalizations.

I bet if the poster put up a recording the response would be greater. I can`t see the hidden implication that much myslef althouhg the questions you pose are worthy of a thread , or indeed bookshelf itslef.

Sharelle, just play the Largo in a pink tutu and god will smile on you...

Ever helpful,


July 13, 2013 at 11:56 PM · Eh, Are you smiling on me now, Buri ?

July 15, 2013 at 02:20 AM · well,

its kind of an inane grin.


July 16, 2013 at 02:10 AM · "im really sorry for the vagueness of the question..i did not really know how to phrase the question with detail. i just wanted to know what beethoven and his music meant to you, personally."

That's a cool question. I don't have an answer, but I think Kavakos' video on Beethoven's sonatas is interesting.

July 16, 2013 at 05:36 PM · It is extremely interesting, but he hasn't got much to say about the 2nd Sonata, and he virtually dismisses that amazing 2nd movement, to which I attach so much significance. I suppose it's a case of small things please small minds.

Just one comment about the first movement. The first real tune IS antimetric, like some of Haydn's tunes, and anticipating that famous 9 bar passage in the first movement of the Trout.

July 18, 2013 at 02:01 PM · What do you mean, John? Music we love isn't necessarily easy for us to interpret or execute. Brahms is one of my favourite composers, but his G major sonata presents enormous musical challenges to the performer.

July 18, 2013 at 02:20 PM · For fun and for FREE! Go to and listen to the many snippets of sound from all the Beethoven violin/piano sonatas. This will not give you any idea of the compete movements, but you will be able to detect and (hopefully) analyze some different aspects of interpretation by the many performers sampled there.

Personally I always had a preference for Aaron Rosand's performances.


July 18, 2013 at 11:22 PM · Greetings,

Rosand is great. Another player I think gets really close is very underrated in my book: Christian Ferras,



July 19, 2013 at 11:25 AM · The Casadesus family were important musicians. Henri and Marius had the musical world fooled with their forgeries for, I think, longer than Fritz Kreisler did. I was acquainted with one great violist who, certainly at the time, hadn't forgiven Henri (I'm not referring to my teacher - She died before Henri was unmasked).

July 22, 2013 at 08:36 AM · Interesting, John, but not surprising. In many sonatas post Handel (and perhaps also in Handel) the piano part is rather more than mere accompaniment - remember Beethoven titled the Kreutzer something like "Sonata for the pianoforte and One Violin Obbligato".

I'm surprised you're sufficiently familiar with that particular Bach to make such a judgement - I'm afraid I'm not, and actually, I admit, I've never heard or tried to play the "J.C.Bach"-Casadesus. It's the Handel forgery with which I am familiar and which I studied with my teacher. I still think it has considerable musical value, even if it may not be quite Handel (and I'm not discerning enough to say even this with confidence). I think the resemblance between the beginning of the Casadesus slow movement and that of the Stamitz D major is, however, a bit of a black mark, seeing that the former is claimed by implication to have been composed before the latter and was in fact composed considerably later.

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