Ludwig van Beethoven is a household name. His infamous classical music is suffused with emotion. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential composers of all time; every composition is a masterpiece. His music demonstrates and reflects the complexity of the self and the beauty of the universe.
During Beethoven’s adolescence in Bonn, Germany, in 1789, he composed his Opus 39, including two beautiful preludes for piano in C major. The work wasn’t published, however, until December of 1803 when Hoffmeister of Leipzig paired the work with his Roman Opus 40 for violin and Serenade for flute.
Beethoven’s signature was lost, but a copy of the manuscript was found in Berlin with adjustments by Beethoven himself, and a note: ‘1789, Von Ludwig van Beethoven’.
The Opus at large has been regarded by some as mediocre among Beethoven’s wider collection of piano compositions. However, the preludes suit the timbre of the piano perfectly and can commonly be heard within any modern compilation of Beethoven’s work.
Prelude No.1 of Beethoven’s Opus 39 demonstrates a romance, an innocence, an almost divine atmosphere reminiscent of the Baroque pre-classical era. The notes seem coming to us from a faraway place, suggesting freedom and purity. The climax of the piece is a major chord which absorbs the last, leisurely moments of the arrangement.
Prelude No.2 also demonstrates an allusion towards divinity, perhaps quite typical of this era of classical music, through which the audience can clearly intuit the passion of the composer. Though the composition is technically uncomplicated, the relationship of melody to musical dynamics has produced an inspired arrangement and an inspiring experience for the listener.
Let’s enjoy the two preludes of Beethoven’s Opus 39 by the pianist Jeno Jandó:
About the musician
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German classical music composer who, from the age of 21, spent most of his life in Vienna, Austria.
Studying classical music under composer Joseph Haydn in Vienna, Beethoven’s passion for music flourished and his reputation swiftly developed.
During his 20s, the young composer began to experience a deterioration in his hearing, and sadly, by the last decade of his life, he had become almost entirely deaf.
Beethoven is one of the most important classical music icons of all time, bridging the gap between the Classical and the Romantic eras. He was, and is, considered a pioneer whose disability never hindered his genius.
Beethoven’s masterpieces include: Symphony No.2 in D major, Symphony No.3 in E♭ major (‘Eroica’), Symphony No.5 in C minor (‘Fate’), Symphony No.6 in F major (‘Pastoral’), Symphony No.7 in A major, Symphony No.9 in D minor (‘Choral’), piano compositions including Für Elise, and sonatas Pathétique, Moonlight, Waldstein and Appasionata.
Sonatas for violin include Spring, Kreutzer, and Violin Concerto in D major.
Other notable works include: Piano Concerto No.2, No.3, No. 5 (‘Emperor’), preludes Coriolan, Leonore, Egmont, and one opera; Fidelio.
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