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Moonlight Sonata can be said to be a song that marks a big change in the musical composition style of the genius composer Beethoven. It has something like grief, loss, prayers, and stormy intensity. Behind this famous sonata are many stories.
This sonata is C# for piano, ‘Quasi una fantasia’, commonly known under the name Moonlight sonata, is a work of the talented composer Ludwig van Beethoven composed in 1801. Today, it was his most famous piece for the piano, and even then it was the music that many people loved. Talking about the popularity of Moonlight sonata, it annoyed Beethoven. He once told his pupil Czerny: ‘You write many better versions than that’, yet people keep talking about the moonlight sonata.
There are many stories told to explain the birth of the Moonlight sonata. In the mid-19th century, people began to talk about Beethoven’s encounter with a blind girl. In 1801, Beethoven was living in Vienna – the capital of Austria – the music capital of the world then. Besides composing, in order to cover the difficulties in his life, he also had to teach music to the daughters of the nobles. One of Beethoven’s students was Countess Giulietta Guicciardi – a beautiful 17-year-old noble lady, Beethoven felt in love with this girl from the first sight, Giulietta also seemed to know Beethoven’s feelings for her but she remained silent, which made Beethoven even more hopeful. One evening after class, under the beautiful arches of the Giulietta house, Beethoven spoke to his beloved but he was disappointed and miserable when he was rejected. He decided to not go home, he walked alone on the streets of Vienna indefinitely, at this time he paid no heed to the surrounding world anymore and did not know where he was going. It was very late, at which time Beethoven was standing alone on a bridge across the beautiful and peaceful Danube river. The wind and water of the Danube sparkled with gold and Beethoven suddenly got rid of his thoughts and realized that tonight was a very bright moonlit night. The whole ancient city of Vienna was deep in sleep, quiet in the fanciful soft moonlight. Suddenly he heard somewhere the sound of the piano rang, but sadly, far away. Following the sound, Beethoven finally came to a house in a poor working area, in which only one father was listening to his daughter playing the piano. The girl’s father told Beethoven that his daughter had not seen the sun ever since she was born, she had only a lifetime dream to see the moonlight on the Danube … The father suffering said that perhaps he could never bring her that simple happiness. Beethoven was surprised to find the girl still able to play the piano even she is blind and he felt touched by the father’s affection for his daughter, the unfortunate fate of the young woman. He sat on the piano and began to play.
“I never wrote for fame. The things that fill my heart need to be revealed, which is why I wrote them.” – Ludwig van Beethoven.
And the notes kept rushing up in the intense emotions of the genius composer, sometimes gentle and gentle like the moonlight, sometimes as powerful as the Danube – notes and the moonlight seemed to blend together to bring people into a fanciful fairytale world – there are no daily worries of hard-working life, no more injustice, suffering – but is a world of love, kindness, nobility – a world of pure beauty, purity, and nobility, which from the dawn until now, people have been constantly yearning to reach. The song has ended and on the face of the young girl, who was always so sad and hard to describe, is now radiant with a happy smile, the father and his daughter also know the person sitting next to them was Beethoven – one of the greatest composers of all time. The immortal Moonlight sonata was born since then, Beethoven later wrote a dedication to this sonata to Countess Giulietta Guicciardi to commemorate his first love.
Anyway, those are just ‘legends’. Moonlight is not the name given to him by Beethoven for this sonata version (C♯ minor). The name ‘Moonlight’ sonata only appeared a few years after Beethoven’s death. In 1836, the German music critic, Ludwig Rellstab, shared that this sonata evoked in him a picture of the moonlight reflected on Lake Lucerne. Since then, the name Moonlight sonata has become an unofficial ‘official’ name for the song.
Beethoven does not compose the moonlight sonata in the traditional form of fast-slow-fast. It starts with the Adagio form (C minor scale), Cm # 4/4 beat, light emotional, slow, followed by a slow Allegretto (C major) and ends with Presto agitato (C Major) intense.
The first part is soothing, profound, and sad. The trio of music is slow, slow, steady, steady, repetitive, glides smoothly in the opening. The pitch changes gradually, emphasizing each endnote and the accompaniment as the image of terraced fields … to enter the main melody with high notes, (about 8) clear, melancholy, long bank: sol … sol sol ……… / sol … sol sol ……… la /……../ sol …… ..fa si mi, (temporarily transcribed into words: my darling / my darling (8 Times) …… my darling / my darling (8 times) // Moon … go up. ……. / Moon … go up …. / morning …. / moon … then clear moon). There appeared the image of a sad artist, wandering aimlessly on the streets of Vienne, the capital of Austria, and then stopped, hungover on a bridge across the river. It was a moonlit night, the moonlight evenly spread in the silent, reflective space on the Danube stream. There was something a little distracting, like the sound of softly falling leaves, the sound of waves whirring evenly. As if hearing the sound of the moon breaking into pieces of gold; There is a little bit of thinking like suppressing the emotions that are about to burst. The strings of sounds intertwined, winding from lower to higher, creating a wide range for the sound to rise, full of emotion. The French composer Berlioz commented that it was like ‘a poem that human language cannot sing’. Beethoven’s student, Carl Czerny, argued that it described a ‘night, with gloomy sounds coming from afar’. Some people feel that they are walking in the dark under the moonlight.
The second part, Allegretto (D-flat major), Db # is very playful and charming. The rhythm changes to the main tune. Still in the same three, the message stick after each other but higher, rushing, more cheerful. It sounds like the sound of a flute dance, a bird call, a noise of the streets. The sudden change of pitch in that wide range made a happy, continuous and continuous surprise. This is probably the time when the composer’s soul has returned to a normal calm. Because, before that, he experienced a period of extreme pain, extreme loneliness in life. He was deeply saddened and depressed by the death of the prince of Germany, his benefactor, and his second father. Plus the life of a young man without love, his father was drunk, his mother died prematurely, his brothers could not help each other … more ailments (otitis media, deafness) were getting worse, making her always in a state of nervous, scowl. Sometimes too disappointed, wanted to finish suicide. Like a drop of water spilling a glass, the fate of ‘Moonlight Sonate’ was decided by an event in a lifetime of love. After the 17-year-old piano student – Countess G. Giulietta Guicciardi- refused to love, sadness led him to walk in the middle of the moonlit night in despair, so that he could meet his father and the blind girl. In a labor area. Listen to the blind girl play the piano and express her desire to ‘once see the moonlight on the Danube river’. Musicians surrendered, sat on the piano, thanks to the music of dream wings for a poor blind girl; and, the opening notes for the Sonata … were born. The second part brings the listeners to calm down with notes that are somewhat fresher, cleaner, giving hope. The second part is very short, seemingly just a bridge for the first and the third. Composer Franz Liszt likened this second part to ‘a flower between two abysses’. Beethoven’s flower keeps blooming and then collecting and then blooming, repeating the music in the background.
The third part is the ‘storm’ part of the Moonlight sonata. Fast and powerful notes reveal a powerful emotion. The final sonata (chapter 3) is rarely seen in other sonatas and is difficult to compose, and it is also an unorthodox tempo and formality (at the time) Sonate versions usually start with quick rhythms.) But the Moonlight Sonate starts with the Adagio form, the middle part with Allegretto, the final part is extremely fast:
Chapter 1: Adagio sostenuto (C-rank): Gentle, affectionate
Chapter 2: Allegretto (reed major): Playful
Chapter 3: Presto agitato (C-rank): Enthusiastic, strong as a storm.
Only with 3 chapters but the Moonlight sonata has described all the intense changes in human emotions. The sound is very clear, the message, the chorus, there is a breakthrough, as strong as the ocean waves … there is a cheerful stream, screams, the jubilance of the dance, the sound of horse music, wind … rushing emotions. The gentle rendition returns to the fun, the chorus of this Chapter III and ends with the continuous, powerful and definitive sound sequences. Dark clouds were lifted up, the moonlight was shining brightly in the dark night, illuminating the souls of people who were not favored by life; pain as if it were dropped, bright wishes are rekindled … The moon shines throughout Vienne, illuminating the soul and eyes of a blind girl; lighten the faith of a cold, gloomy heart for the love of the talented artist Beethoven. This sonata is one of Beethoven’s most popular sonatas of all time, and the story of the birth of the work is just as beautiful as a legend.
Besides the romantic ‘legends’ of the Moonlight sonata, cannot forget the fact that in the period after 1801, Beethoven began to experience the despair in his soul when he had to try to accept his work even he was starting to lose hearing. Outsiders look to see Beethoven have an ideal life, is a master piano pianist and is a leading successful composer in Vienna. However, Beethoven began to leave society and friends out of anxiety that people would know that he would be deaf. People feel that he is unapproachable.
Beethoven lived many years in solitude and loneliness until he was completely deaf. The situation deeply influenced his spirit and creativity in music. The period 1800 – 1802 marked a turning point in Beethoven’s life and also started the next stage of his writing. When the ears could no longer hear, Beethoven began to listen with his soul. Beethoven sought treatment in a village in Heilgenstadt in the late spring of 1802 until October of the same year. Desperate because the treatment was unsuccessful, he once intended to kill himself. In a letter, he said: ‘Thanks to art, I did not end my life by committing suicide.’ Repeatedly in Beethoven’s music is the spirit of overcoming adversity. The inner conflicts he experiences can all be found in music, which is transcending everything to overcome despair and grief. Through the struggles in that mind, Beethoven learned how to live with hearing loss and become a musical genius with great masterpieces.
After the treatment, Beethoven seemed dissatisfied with his work and, according to his student, Czerny, ‘he was determined to go on a new path.’ The change is reflected in the strong rhythms in the sonata, the drama, the imbalance … Moonlight Sonata can be considered the first composition when Beethoven entered the stage of gradually losing hearing until deafness. The grief and loss in the work, the prayers, and the storm that created the great music, the music that started the feat of Beethoven.
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