”Kreutzer” sonata (Beethoven)

Edited: July 9, 2018, 10:44 AM · Hi!

I was wondering how difficult is 9th sonata (”Kreutzer”) by L. V Beethoven? Or compared to Paganini’s caprices or Bach’s violin solos?

Replies (9)

Edited: July 9, 2018, 11:12 AM · I'd say they are each very difficult, but in different ways. Be aware that a few of Paganini's caprices are more "approachable" than the rest, as are some of Bach's solo works a little "easier" than others.

The "Kreutzer" is among the greatest violin sonatas ever composed - if not the greatest, some will say - but its difficulty for me would lie in getting into the soul of what Beethoven was saying, but after all the technical problems have been resolved, as with a lot of his music.

I'd suggest watching as many videos by top violinists of the pieces you mentioned, as you can. Then you can start making your own comparisons. Note that most players are looking at at least 7 years post-beginner under a good teacher before they're ready to start on any of those pieces with a view to performance.

July 9, 2018, 12:34 PM · Thank you, Trevor!! :)
Edited: July 9, 2018, 2:44 PM · Musically speaking I found the 10th sonata more challenging than the Kreutzer. The Kreutzer has some very nasty passagework (meaning difficult.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfdC8TRt5cg
July 9, 2018, 3:50 PM · You haven't really lived as a violinist until you've played those opening chords in front of a live audience for the first time.

One of the great things about the Kreutzer is that most of the extremely difficult passages are in the first two movements. The last movement is a blast from start to finish and not overwhelmingly hard.

Pretty much a guaranteed standing ovation if you nail it.

While the Kreutzer is quite a load its no where near as hard as the hardest caprices.

Also - it would behoove you to find a phenomenal pianist to play with. Like the Franck - Don't even attempt to play it with someone who isn't ready for that part.

Edited: July 10, 2018, 7:35 AM · A couple of YouTube videos of the Kreutzer that are worth watching; they highlight the comments made by Ryan:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OF9fneQ50Us (Patricia Kopatchinskaja & Fazil Say)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSC4W1qWMp4 (Nathan Milstein & Georges Pludermacher)

The Milstein performance was sadly his last before a fall resulting in damage to his hand that prevented him from playing again.

Edited: July 31, 2018, 8:50 PM · I dispute the characterization of the Kreutzer as the "greatest" of Beethoven's sonatas. There are plenty of candidates in the set from the early to the late ones. My favorite for example is no. 9 (composed for Rode who apparently never played it either, just like Kreutzer did with "his" sonata). Other super-famous ones are the c-minor op. 30/2 or the "spring". Indeed they are all worth studying.

What is true is that the Kreutzer is different from all the others, much more virtuosic for both players, the kind of difficulty that concertgoers observe as such, not the much more subtle problems the 10th presents for example.

July 31, 2018, 9:24 PM · Isn't the Kreutzer Sonata #9?
July 31, 2018, 11:07 PM · I found the Kreutzer difficult - even just nailing the initial chords just right. I gave it a shot in my youth and have been scared of it ever since.

One of the coolest performances I ever heard of the first movement was by a San Francisco Symphony percussionist on the Marimba with his pianist wife - absolutely enthralling.

August 1, 2018, 8:39 AM · "I dispute the characterization of the Kreutzer as the "greatest" of Beethoven's sonatas. There are plenty of candidates in the set from the early to the late ones"

Of course they're all great and worth studying. I think what's different about the Kreutzer isn't that it's "better" but the scope of it. Compared to the previous 8, it's written on an entirely different scale, showing Beethoven's break with the 18th century. It's like comparing his late string quartets with the op 18, or the 9th symphony with the 1st: a different beast entirely.

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