Key Signature and Theme Essay

Submitted By Chazzviolin
Words: 2662
Pages: 11

Beethoven’s Opus 2, #3 and the Opus 53 “Waldstein” are two sonatas cast between eight years of composed completion. Technical style, musical dialogue and thematic recognition are among the sonic differences between these two standout works of Beethoven. Yet, with it’s eight years apart and the obvious change in writing style, Beethoven still reflects upon the use of Sonata Form. What is particularly interesting is the way Beethoven uses the Sonata Form and how he deviates from the traditional norm. Sonata Form is typically seen as a structure that thematically and harmonically organizes the music, usually opening with an optional introduction followed by an exposition where theme one is usually in the tonic and theme two in the dominant. The exposition is followed by the development section, where the themes undergo variation and modulation to finally bring back a recapitulation that restates both themes in the tonic. A coda concludes the sonata. Beethoven alters this form in both the Opus 2, #3 and the Waldstein and in some instances he changes the typical structure dramatically. In both sonatas there are the definitive Exposition, Development, and Recapitulation section, but some of the lines have been blurred and the general thematic norm expanded. Let us comparatively break both sonatas down into sections to see how Beethoven structures his music.


The opening of the expositions in Opus 2, #3 and the Waldstein hold very different qualities. The first eight bars of Opus 2, #3 hold the definitive key of C with the first theme closing at measure 12 on a closed cadence (in the tonic key....nothing unusual), however, by measure 13, our principal theme is completed and is followed by a transitional section that flurries with sixteenth note arpeggios and alternating octaves modulating to the key of G where at measure 21 the listener is tricked into a false thematic section only to realize that it is still in the dominant key. The first eight bars of the transitional section is very much traditional in which it makes a clear modulation to G, but the false thematic material at measure 21 no longer modulates and plays between keys G and C for a couple measures until a descending scale to a G before we start the second theme. What is odd about this is how Beethoven chooses to land already on the…