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Beethoven, "Kreutzer” Sonata for Piano and Violin: Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata

By Justin Ohler

The Kreutzer Sonata

The Kreutzer Sonata was composed in 1803 at the start of Beethoven’s “middle period.” During this time, he was afflicted with deafness and moved to Heiligenstadt, Austria for a quieter life. Here, he wrote a letter now known as the “Heiligenstadt Testament” to his brothers discussing his struggles and thoughts of suicide. The Kreutzer sonata and Eroica Symphony by Beethoven are considered by many to be symbols of Beethoven overcoming deafness.

Violin Part: 1st Page

First Page of the Kreutzer Sonata

Origins and Composition

Beethoven had very little time to compose the piece before its first performance and rushed to finish it in time. He even decided to use the discarded Finale of his Violin Sonata Opus 30, No. 1 for the last movement instead of writing an original one. George Polgreen Bridgetower, to whom the piece was dedicated, sight-read the entire work on the day of the performance while reading Beethoven’s manuscript for the first and second movements. The last movement was the only movement fully notated. 

The sonata consists of three movements. The first movement is titled Presto, which follows sonata form. The second movement is titled Andante con variazioni, which is a theme and variations. The last movement (the movement intended for a different sonata) is titled Presto and is an upbeat rondo in 6/8 meter.