Forgotten Beethoven piano sonata receives world premiere – hear an excerpt!

Charlotte Smith22nd Oct 2012
Previously undiscovered Beethoven piano sonata receives world premiereAn early, undiscovered Beethoven piano sonata has received its world premiere (photo: Cees Nieuwenhuizen)

A previously undiscovered Beethoven piano sonata received its world premiere at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw yesterday. The Sonata Fantasia in D was written by the composer at just 22 years of age in 1792 – a good three years before his first official sonata.

Dutch Beethoven musicologist Cees Nieuwenhuizen was behind the reconstruction and publication of the Sonata, which existed as 1100 bars of music in the 'Kafka' Sketchbook, published in 1970. The work, which was premiered yesterday by young pianist Martin Oei, contains ‘remarkable abnormalities in terms of form and content’ and ‘striking harmonies not present in other works composed in these years’, according to Nieuwenhuizen. 

There are a number of thematic similarities to Beethoven’s later works, however. The first part of the Sonata shares a theme with the trio of the third movement of his Symphony No 7. There are also several themes common to the Pastoral, Appassionata and Moonlight Sonatas.

The reconstructed work has now been recorded by Oei and is available on Zefir Records.

Watch part of the world premiere performance below:

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