Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 16 in G major, Op. 31 No. 1, was composed between 1801 and 1802. Although it was numbered as the first piece in the trio of piano sonatas which were published as Opus 31 in 1803, Beethoven actually finished it after the Op. 31 No. 2, the Tempest Sonata.
Due to his dissatisfaction with the classical style of music, Beethoven pledged to take a new path of musical composition and style. The Opus 31 works are the first examples of Beethoven’s new and unconventional ideas, an attempt to make a name for himself in the annals of music history. For example, the first movement, unlike most sonata allegro forms in which the second theme of the exposition is dominant, the second theme is in B major and B minor, the mediant of the original key. Beethoven would later continue to use the mediant and submediant as expositional goals for major-key sonata-form movements, such as the first movements of the Waldstein and Hammerklavier sonatas, the Archduke trio, the triple concerto and the thirteenth string quartet, as well as the finale to the seventh symphony. It is important to take into account that these pieces were written after the famous Heiligenstadt Testament of 1802.
This sonata is light, breezy and has touches of humour and irony in its movements. Critics say that the Opus 31 works show now a more pronounced “Beethovenian” sense of style that will become more evident in later, mature works.
Beethoven – Sonata No. 16 in G Major Op. 31