Beethoven Piano Sonatas – Road Map


Before I get down to analyzing all the Beethoven sonatas I wish to explain the many forms Beethoven and other composers used when writing music. I drew a guide to the four most common forms used at the time, which is the headline picture of this blog post.

I would like to emphasize a disclaimer beforehand. Sonata forms and other musical forms were not set in stone. They were not a rulebook but trends composers tended to follow when writing music, and it was not uncommon for composers such as Beethoven to toy around with the forms’ conventions and people’s expectations. You will hear plenty of examples from Beethoven in almost all of his sonatas, even in his early “Kurfursten” sonatas he wrote when he was only twelve.

SONATA FORM is the most complex form out there with only fugues being harder to write. Most professors say sonata form is in “ternary form” or is made of three parts but this is not true. Sonata form is really in “binary form” or made of two main parts. Professors mislabel the development section as a third part of the sonata but it really isn’t, just a space to improvise, as I will show below.

Sonata form’s two parts are the exposition (an “A part”) and recapitulation (B part). Both are basically the same, divided into two smaller parts where you start with a subject (or a distinct musical idea) and follow up on it with more ideas. The exposition has a first half (or “a part”) where you begin the piece with a main subject that will be the main idea of the entire movement in the home key. The example home keys I use here will be C major and c minor (I or i key).

After stating your main subject you enter into a transition; you develop your idea while moving (or modulating) to a new key. If your home key is C major you usually modulate to G major (V key) or if your home key is c minor you usually modulate to Eb major (III key). Often a composer will do a few V-I cadences in the new key at the end of the transition to let the listener settle into a new key. If you started the piece in C major you will now be playing D major – G major cadences or if you started the piece in c minor you will now be playing Bb major – Eb major cadences.

Now you are in the second half (or b part) of the exposition; you play a second subject, sometimes more, usually to contrast with your main subject. These new subjects are sometimes called subordinate subjects. Then you follow up with some closing statements where you cement the piece in your new key. In our example it’s G major or Eb major.

Now you enter into a development section where you take the different subjects you played before and explore them in many different keys, usually far away from your home key. Often the development is divided into three smaller parts. First is a “pre-development” part where you start this new phase of the music. Then you play one or more “cores” where you play a musical idea in many different keys. Then you play a re-transition where you go back to the home key. This begins the recapitulation.

The recapitulation (or B part) is very similar to the exposition. You play your main subject, (a’ part) which is in C major or c minor in our example, and enter a transition, except here you don’t go to a new key but stay in your old key. You even do a few V-I cadences in your old key to let the listener know you’re staying there. So in your subordinate subjects (b’ part) if you started the piece in C major you make a G major – C major cadence. If you started the piece in c minor you make a G major – c minor cadence or a G major – C major cadence. Then you conclude the piece with some closing statements in that same key.

Rarely is the recapitulation exactly like the exposition, especially when a skilled composer is writing this music. You will play the main subject a little differently; maybe even develop it even further. While in the transition you may linger in the IV key. You may even play the subordinate subjects a little differently and you may expand on the closing statements to give the piece a strong ending.

It is not uncommon to think sonata form (and other forms) as a debate or thesis since even composers of the day saw this kind of music as very intellectual. The various subjects are like the main points you make in an argument and the various transitions and closing statements are like the train of thought of logical statements and examples you bring up to support your ideas in greater detail.

You can think of sonata form as a story or character arc just as easily. Your character starts out in the main subject and dramatically changes during transitions. Subordinate subjects are like resting places for your character between adventures or a place to reflect how your character has changed. The development is like the lowest point in a character’s life or the area of greatest struggle while the closing statements at the end of the piece is like the climax of the story.

I now argue why sonata form is a binary form of two parts and not a ternary form of three parts. This is because the development section isn’t really a part in its own right, more like a free space to explore your musical ideas however you wish. It even grew over time. In Scarlatti’s and Mozart’s earlier sonatas, and even the younger Beethoven’s sonatas, the development is small to the point where the entire second half of the sonata (development and recapitulation) is repeated. But when you get to Mozart’s later works and most of Beethoven’s works throughout his career, the development section gets so big it’s almost as big as the recapitulation at times, and the second half of the sonata is no longer repeated. But even at this point the development is not a formal third part of the sonata, which is still, in essence, a creature of two halves. Some sonatas even lack a development section.

I must also point out how earlier sonatas, like Scarlatti’s and the teenage Beethoven’s, don’t have definite subjects like later sonatas do. What you get instead is a stream of different musical phrases, like sentences or stanzas, that travels to different keys.  You can still hear definite A parts and B parts but not so much definite subjects.

MINUET FORM is far simpler than sonata form but still has a structure to it. Unlike sonata form, minuet form is an actual ternary form since it has three parts with similar structure. You have the minuet (A part), a trio (B part), and return to the minuet (A’ part). Scherzos are quicker and livelier than minuets but are no different in basic structure.

The minuet is divided into two halves. The first half (a part) is where you state the main ideas of your minuet in the home key, and is often brief. Our example will again be C major or c minor. Then you enter a so-called development (or b part) where you explore the music in different keys for a while, then your return to your home key. Sometimes the minuet ends like it began but a little differently (with a’ part) while at other times the end is completely new (a c part).

The trio is also divided into two halves but is at a different key. If you began the minuet in C major you will often begin the trio in G major (V key) or F major (IV key). Sometimes you may even begin the trio in c minor (i key). If you began the minuet in c minor you will often begin the trio in C major (I key). Other than difference in key the trio contrasts the minuet, but otherwise has the same structure as the minuet.

Then you return to the minuet (A’ part), which may be slightly different than it was before and may even have a coda at the end. Keep in mind that Beethoven sometimes plays the scherzo and then the trio more than once like in his Symphony No. 7 but this is rare.

RONDO FORM is another simpler form of music, and is easiest to compare with a poem or song that frequently refrains to its main idea. You often get different lines, often repeated, in different keys. For instance you get the main line of the rondo (a part) in the home key, then a different line in a different key (b part) and a different line in yet another key (c part). All these different lines, like stanzas in a poem, can be put into a group (or A part). Then the next group of lines (or B part) begins. You play a variant of the old lines (like a b’ part or c’ part) or play new ideas (d part or e part), but you will always refrain to your first line (a part). You proceed in this pattern until you play the first line one final time, then play a small coda to end the piece.

VARIATION FORM is the simplest form but can also be the most profound music as it allows the composer to explore an idea as deeply as he wants. Beethoven himself used variations to great affect, especially later in his career, and would often play variations of ideas in other forms.

Variations tend to stay in one key throughout, with the theme divided into two halves that repeat. The first half is the main subject of the variation in the home key (a part). The second half has a small so-called development that explores the subject a bit (b key) and then returns to the subject (a’ part), which may be slightly different this time. Each variation that follows has the same basic structure; often it even has the exact same harmonies as the theme.

But even variations can change. Sometimes a composer will play a variation in the minor version of the home key (like c minor to contrast C major). Many variations in the 18th and 19th centuries tend to have a similar structure. The first few variations embellish the theme with more and more notes. After a certain point you play one or more simpler slower variations in a contrasting key. Then you play the last variations in the home key again.

Professor Peternes Proposes a Toast


Presided by the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the CATO Institute, the Heartland Institute, Prager University, Trump University, and the RAND Corporation.
Inaugural presidential speech delivered by Proff. Jack B. Peternes.
June 6, 2016

PETERNES: Firstly, I would like to thank the Grand Inquisitor Newt Gingrich for electing me president of the National Education Alliance, our conglomerate private enterprise that monitors the progress made by various think tanks in our great nation. This is a most auspicious of occasions, as my presidency and a new plan to educate the youth of the United States is more needed more direly than ever. The leftist menace raises her ugly head more than ever; our youth have abandoned the family, God, and the Nation for the slavery of big government and socialist values. They see the just authority and traditions of our great nation as cultural and political deceits from a wealthy party of corporate elites who wish to chain the nation with the forces of the economy, the police, and information. Now they cause us a terrible fright – the specter of communism haunts America – threatening to tear western civilization asunder.

Communism has become a radical insurgency in the United States since the 1960s. Communist professors have infected our universities, which in turn bred communist youth who have infected every part of our American way of life, breeding ever more communists; their goal is nothing less than to turn all of America red, burdened under the yoke of a single, unquestionable, oppressive ideology. Who may now doubt or slander the American hero McCarthy for his prophesies, now coming to fruition? The wisest and greatest of business elites of older times knew the value of God, the family, and private enterprise, as seen in the thriving kingdoms of Hitler and Mussolini. While the mob rule of democracy prevents our wise business elites from driving decadence out by force there is still hope yet as we may inculcate the youth with the future with proper values so they may, in due time, take back the nation; to rescue the West from feminists, union workers, thugs, hippies, immigrants, socialists, anarchists, communists, globalists, vagabonds, school teachers, university professors, artists, philosophers, sexual deviants, cucks, purple-haired social justice warriors, liberals, and other degenerates.

I dropped from university as a youth because nothing could interest me less than paying tens of thousands more dollars to cultural Marxists who will tell me to read books I have already read and formulate subjective opinions they happen to agree with, only for me to age and watch all of my knowledge pass out of trend. No professor, despite his years of education and research, could withstand the power of the red pill, for even as a youth I knew my opinions, my truth bombs, were self-evident facts. I shun any child foolish enough to pay the liberal fascists in charge to indoctrinate them with false facts, transforming them into an army of politically correct drones that follow big government without question. Indeed, I disavowed my daughter for even asking to go to university. I would not suffer to have my white, teenaged, comely daughter turn into a fat, ugly feminist who violates her sacred body with pills each time she beds a thug and murders countless innocent infant lives. Father always knows best. One must not question their father or God, for that is how Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, plunging mankind into sin.

The entire school of modern leftism rests on two quotes:

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable.” – George Orwell

“Accuse the other side of that which you are guilty.” – Joseph Goebbels

Let us then, as new educational authorities of our great nation, prevent the youth from eating the forbidden fruit ever again. We must begin a new nationwide program to recolonize the minds of Americans, to educate the youth of America for decades to come. In this post-Orwellian post-truth world we must take great care to protect the youth from the false facts of leftist socialist public education, communist universities, and the liberal media. In the place of false facts we must build our education program on alternative facts. – We are the greatest nation on earth, home to the freest people of the world. We have the right to disagree with the facts! – To that end, we must…

1. Dismantle all public schools. All education will be privatized.
2. Remodel all remaining schools after the Prussian Education System.
3. Cut school curriculum of all social sciences, arts, humanities, and philosophy.
4. Ban the buying, selling, or reading of all books beyond any reading that is strictly technical and necessary to acquire wealth.
5. Privatize all scientific research so we may monitor scientists, most of whom are leftist and godless, from spreading propaganda such as global warming.
6. Necessitate that all our pedagogues and politicos speak and write in an obscure, verbose, domineering way, especially when expounding alternative facts. Such ways of talking make it abundantly clear who is truly knowledgeable and smart and who is not.
7. Forbid the playing of all music. Music foments the minds of youth with wild imagination and godless decadence. Furthermore, music is a coded language leftists use to sneak in subversive ideas.

The defenseless rich, too often victimized by the mob, their enterprises too often foiled by government restraints implanted by cucks bullied into submission by union workers and feminists; we must stand firm and take back western civilization from the New World Order of liberal fascism.

More than ever we must educate the young in current events, including the teaching of alternative facts. The situation of the modern world is as follows: the world is under a radical leftist insurgency, which aims at the destruction of all political opposition and freedom of thought, utilizing many branches of corruption to reach such a goal: including hateful atheists to persecute Christians and destroy the First Amendment, militant Muslims to invade western civilization from without, the liberal media, educators, and activists eroding western civilization from within, government-sponsored feminist tribunals to persecuting white males, and globalists to obliterate all national pride and heritage. The end goal of liberal fascism is to purge western civilization of all white males by exterminating them in FEMA concentration camps. Once that is achieved, the world will be heaven on earth to the left, a world without any difference or discrimination of any sort, a world where all humans will look the same, think the same, act the same, mired forever in perpetual mediocrity, a world where creative genius, artistic beauty, strength of character, and infinite potential, as embodied highest in the white male, is gone forever.

Let us strain some alternative facts more strongly than others, a litmus test every proper youth must memorize by heart, to counter cultural Marxist dogma. Corporations, the free market, and the police are not the enemies of the people. Rather, the people are their own biggest enemies. Protestors, and other people roused to action against injustice, are violent, thuggish criminals who destroy millions of dollars in property. They are weak, effeminate crybabies who call anyone they disagree with a racist, unable to muster the courage for real, physical action. Such destructive calamity causes great concern to our esteemed business elites as they retire to their mansions, penthouses, and yachts. Our wise leaders understand the people must be saved from their worst instincts; for as the people are pampered with socialist safety nets such as union workers, healthcare, welfare, and other favors delivered to them on a silver platter, they become spoiled, lazy, insolent. They clamor for the truth and demand their rights, causing a dreadful stir, plunging western civilization into the deepest decline.

We must correct the people of their raucous behavior by reminding them that the free market is an enterprise of equal exchange by all parties, that privatization keeps the mob of communist anarcho-fascists from subjugating the people in an oppressive monopoly. The people must realize that not everyone is a winner in a fair system. There will be losers, and nobody likes losers. Gumption makes a great man. How often do we see a nobleman rise to great wealth armed with nothing but his wits and courage to make a daring enterprise, and contrast this to the poor man, who fails at everything despite big government delivering him all advantages on a silver platter since birth! Likewise, we must remind the people how foreigners, especially Muslims, hate us for our freedom, want nothing more than kill us in the name of Allah, transform our churches into mosques, and subjugate our women under Islamic dogma instead of under Christian dogma. To that end we must forever be at war to keep our eight hundred military bases intact abroad seventy countries around the world to protect our shores from foreign invasion. War creates peace, yet we must forever be at war, so it is ultimately true that war is peace. Only a corporate dictatorship can save western civilization.

More than any other subject on earth history is about us. Therefore, we must educate the youth in these alternative facts with the most severity. Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it – and the eleventh grade – and we must ensure the youth never fall into degeneracy and revolution again. Professor James W. Lowen is most esteemed among the left for his propagandist book Lies My Teacher Told Me, a dangerous book whose author indoctrinated countless impressionable youth into hating America. In that regard, Professor Lowen is similar in character to the diabolical Professor Noam Chomsky, another leftist wicked ideologue. To remedy our national disease I appoint Ms. Betsy DeVos to manage the publication and distribution of our corrective volume, Lies My Marxist Professor Told Me. Yes, Ms. DeVos is a woman and has limited experience teaching, but she knows American history better than anyone else. The following alternative facts I disseminate to you are only a portion of the curriculum we devised.

Firstly, let us deal straightaway with insipid humdrum that the white man did not discover America. Yes, we hear socialist scientists speak of Ice Age and Viking settlers before the hero Columbus, but did they have rights to the land? The Indians did not claim the land in any way, did not seize its resources to build chains of shopping malls and fast food restaurants, living like untamed animals in caves. How can you claim to have any rights to land when you do not have any conception of property rights? Any white person who civilizes the land and its people have the right to take over the continent.

Let us also dispel the slander that our founding fathers were mass murderers, which is similar to the ways liberal fascists lie about the conflict of Israel and Palestine. The white man came to American shores in peace, providing the Indians with food, blankets, and civilization, only to have the ingrate Indians rise like jihadists to kill him. The white man defends himself with his superior weapons, civilization, and intellect, forcing the savages to fall back. The white man pushes civilization to new frontiers as naturally expected, only for the Indian to return. He tries to kill the white man and loses once more, then dares to cry oppression. The Indian’s weakness to European diseases only proves his weak constitution all the more.

Liberal Marxist academia deals with slavery just as dishonestly. Even they admit blacks in Africa sold men of their own kind as slaves to the white man, but they lie everywhere else. Slavery was nowhere near as brutal as bleating leftists and civil rights activists claim. That is fact. The master of the house gave slaves all the benefits enjoyed by a free poor white man. He gave him work, food, shelter, and, most of all, discipline. Yet how does this blackamoor repay his generous master? He slacks off, he lies, he steals, he joins forces with poor whites to stage an insurrection against man and God. Abraham Lincoln, the worst president in American history, freed the slaves in a catastrophic blunder, tricked by globalists into believing the South fought the Civil War to keep slaves. The South fought the Civil War for states’ rights, not for slavery! In either case, Lincoln released a race of people forever cast in a victim complex while displaying the worst viciousness of all demographics in America.

The next century would fall prey to the machinations of the communist ideology. As capitalism emerged and honest tycoons and bankers pursued profit under the Non-Aggression Principle and the free market, poor workers and lazy intellectuals, all resentful, envious, greedy, stupid, created the wicked ideology of communism. The helmsman of the red menace, the infernal Karl Marx, is second only to Satan in his deceit and malignance. Communists hence wrecked havoc on the world by causing two world wars to the destruction of billion of dollars in property. In particular, Stalin manipulated America and Britain to fight against Nazi Germany, the last bastion of Western tradition and life-affirmation, to the set stage for global communist rule. Stalin died, yet his disciplines carried his schemes, manipulating college students in the 1960s. This created a wave of radical insurgents from genocidal feminist Gloria Steinem to the radical Muslim Martin Luther King, all aiming to destroy western civilization from within. We arrive to the present where America’s youth, the people of the future, must take their country back from the forces of Marxist darkness.

Now we turn to the thorny questions on race and gender, the alternative facts, which leftist ideologues have fought for decades to mislead the public. Cultural Marxists and other postmodern degenerates will balk at the study of physiology and phrenology though they are perfectly legitimate sciences as opposed to, let us say, sociology and gender studies. Under a proper inspection it is quite obvious the black is distinctly inferior to the white, as different to the white man as chimpanzee is to man. One must only look at a black man’s stubbed face, his broad nose, his flaring nostrils to the see the apish resemblance and come to an immediate conclusion. Nevertheless, generous white scientists – can black scientists, if such things can even exist, be impartial? – such as Doctor Philippe Rushton and Professor Charles Murray have examined the Negro question in depth only to arrive to the same conclusion. Doctor Rushton, by studying Playboy and other pornographic magazines, concluded that there is an inverse correlation between penis size and intelligence. Professor Murray published the Bell Curve, a landmark text so infallible all other literature must be discarded if one is to honestly understand race relations.

Likewise with sex the screeching feminists will be equally disappointed as their thuggish civil rights activist brothers. The female is decidedly inferior to the male in stature and intellect, the difference between her and man similar to the unbridgeable gap between chimpanzee and man. Once more, the practice of the true sciences physiology and phrenology provide insights into the nature of woman. Her body is smaller and weaker than man’s, her shoulders and chest narrow, her eyes too large, her hips too wide, her legs short and crooked, her breasts sagging flabs of fat. Her vagina stinks a most noxious odor and bleeds… The woman is foulest in childbirth, sweating, smelly, her vagina torn and bleeding, her butt smeared with shit… Women are less able to do mental tasks than men are, especially math and logic. Her behavior is far worse as she always seeks a sugar daddy to provide for her. Once that sugar daddy was a good man and father to her children, now the sugar daddy is big government; the woman now serves this new “man”, she is a complete welfare queen. Now she snubs all good men, riding the cock carousel until the age of twenty five when she loses her beauty forever. Only then does the arrogant slut condescend to marry a poor beta male sap stupid enough to provide for her until his dying breath.

All males in the animal kingdom are divided into several categories, a trait that applies perfectly to humans as well, even though he be a creature of God and not a lowly beast. The alpha male is the highest of all men; he is a winner, he dominates every man and woman he meets and does with them what he wishes with no remorse or regard to their sensibilities. Thus the business elites are the brave and strong alpha males among us and rightly so. Next we see beta males, poor dorks who must bear all the brunt of the alpha male. Unable to compete with the alpha male, the beta male must make with whatever scraps the alpha male places for him, especially if it is a woman. The gamma male, the delta male, and the iota male are lower still and even more pathetic; the poor, union workers, and other degenerate losers are this sort of male. The omega male is the absolute lowest male on earth, the retard with Downs Syndrome and cerebral palsy. Beneath all these gradations of the white male is the black male, the white female, and black female. Among all females only the white, middle class, college educated, social justice warrior female is worth any degree of thought. All other females are nonpersons below anything higher than a cursory consideration.

As for so-called transgender people such things do not exist. There are only two genders. Transgender people are merely men and women mentally disturbed and confused. The same thing can also be said of gay and bisexual people. Governor Mike Pence recommends electroshock therapy as a cure for such mental disorders, a prescription I endorse wholeheartedly. I also insist all queer degenerates be forced to take religious instruction; further still to become priests and nuns so God, the church, and state may always watch them so they never deviate again. Overall, brutal hierarchy is man’s natural state, belonging to him long before civilization began and staying with him long afterward. Equality is a luxury created by wealth and weakness, a tolerance we can no longer abide. The time of communists’ failed experiment of equality is over.

Perhaps you thought the hard scientists were free from cultural Marxist indoctrination. Perish the thought you fool! No science is safe from leftists and their destructive plots. Firstly, we must do away with all soft sciences: no philosophy, no sociology, no anthropology, no gender studies, no political science. Nothing is a social construct, least of all the Almighty God whose will we carry out here on earth. Social sciences degenerate youth by giving them terrible, corrupting ideas. They turn into hedonists, become spoiled, insolent, lazy, demanding their parents pay their tuition, whining about student loans. The degenerate wants big government to give him everything he wants on a silver platter and, when he does not recieve it, he protests on the street.

The arts, especially the liberal arts, lead just as many youth astray and likewise should be banned. The best knowledge, the only real knowledge, is pursued through the study of immediate, practical subjects such as economics, business, and law. Idleness is the Devil’s workshop. Knowledge for its own sake, let alone joy for knowledge, leads youth to perdition. All men with glasses are to be distrusted as such men read too many books, causing their vision to decay. The strong white male with healthy strong natural opinions becomes a spineless liberal intellectual who debilitates over the most obvious and self-evident truth with a woman’s self-decisiveness and deceit. The liberal intellectual finds what? Only false facts! If only the cuck would take his nose out of his book and look at the real world he would encounter alternative facts and see the truth.

Hard sciences get no pass for leftists poisoned even them with cultural Marxist false facts. First let me breach on the inherent degeneracy of science itself and why it must always be treated with suspicion. Not only does science take good men away from God it undermines the white male’s importance in the universe. During the time of Moses only a flat earth existed with Jerusalem at the center; there the white male was the center of all creation and the highest being second only to God. With Copernicus’ discovery of the heliocentric universe the earth demoted to another planet, and the white man’s role shrunk. Now we know the sun is merely one star among billions in one galaxy among trillions. Look how small the white male became. In the face of such overwhelming and distressing thoughts we must always remember the white male is center to God.

Therefore all sciences that undermine such a view should be discarded. Evolution is clearly a Darwinian hoax perpetuated by leftist liars. If man came from monkeys why are there still monkeys? Astronomy, which holds the earth to be anything but the center of the cosmos, must also be tossed out. Geology for holding the earth to be billions of years old? Out it goes. All are a liberal conspiracy. So what science do we use? Biblical science. We require all youth to read the Bible in school as a science textbook while we ourselves consult the Bible for all scientific truth. God revealed all his knowledge to us in Abraham and his descendants. Who are we as men to question God and suppose there be more knowledge than what God knows?

A few words on other sciences, not as critical but harmful nevertheless. Vaccines do cause autism, no matter what some crying liberal says. Many foolproof studies have established the fact. Pharmaceutical drugs have no effect on patients while only creating addictions. Let the patient seek a homeopathic remedy or pray to God to deliver him from his illness. Psychiatry and psychology is a globalist ploy to destroy the minds and independent thought of youth everywhere so they may be docile cows herded under the New World Order big government instead of docile sheep herded by the Shepherd. Abortion destroys women, causing them physical and psychological harm lasting throughout her life. Therefore, all abortion should be banned, even if the woman carries an ectopic pregnancy; for her abortion is murder and committing such a heinous act plunges her into Hell. Better die righteous and join the fetus with Jesus in Heaven.

My speech finished, I raise a toast to God and country. With God as my witness I swear to uphold all American values and protect and serve the American people at all times. May God speed us on our righteous mission. May candidate Donald Trump become President of the United States of America so he may appoint Cabinet members, supreme judges, and other viziers who will implement our education program for the future citizens of the United States of America. May God bless America and her values of freedom, democracy, and equality, and guide us to a better and more secure future.