Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 28 in A major, Op. 101, was written in 1816 and was dedicated to the pianist Baroness Dorothea Ertmann, née Graumen. This sonata marks the beginning of what is generally regarded as Beethoven’s final period, where the forms are more complex, ideas more wide-ranging, textures more polyphonic, and the treatment of the themes and motifs even more sophisticated than before. Op. 101 well exemplified this new style, and Beethoven exploits the newly expanded keyboard compass of the day.
This piano sonata consists of four movements:
Etwas lebhaft, und mit der innigsten Empfindung (Somewhat lively, and with innermost sensibility). Allegretto, ma non troppo
Lebhaft, marschmäßig (Lively, march-like). Vivace alla marcia
Langsam und sehnsuchtsvoll (Slow and longingly). Adagio, ma non troppo, con affetto
Geschwind, doch nicht zu sehr, und mit Entschlossenheit (Swiftly, but not overly, and with determination). Allegro
A complete performance of the work takes about 19–22 minutes to perform.
As with the previous sonata, it is unclear why Beethoven wrote Op. 101. The earliest known sketches are on leaves that once formed the parts of the Scheide Sketchbook of 1815–16. It shows the first movement already well developed and notated as an extended draft in score, and there are also a few preliminary ideas for the final Allegro.
Beethoven himself described this sonata, composed in the town of Baden, just south of Vienna, during the summer of 1816, as “a series of impressions and reveries.” The more intimate nature of the late sonatas probably has some connection with his deafness, which by this stage was almost total, isolating him from society so completely that his only means of communicating with friends and visitors was via notebooks.
Beethoven offered the sonata for publication in a letter to Breitkopf and Härtel on July 19, 1816, when it was still far from complete. Eventually it was sold to the local Viennese publisher Sigmond Anton Steiner, after its completion. It was published in January 1817, and would appear in public the following month after delays.
Beethoven – Sonata No. 28 in A Major Op. 101