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Piano Sonata No. 29 (Beethoven)

Beethoven's "Hammerklavier" sonata, Op. 106 in B-flat major, is widely considered to be one of the defining works of the composer's third period and one of the great piano sonatas.

The sonata was written in the last half of the 1810s, towards the end of a fallow period in Beethoven's compositional career, and represents the spectacular emergence of many of the themes that were to recur in Beethoven's late period: the reinvention of traditional forms, such as sonata form; a brusque humor; and a return to pre-classical compositional traditions, including an exploration of modal harmony and reinventions of the fugue within classical forms.

The sonata's name (literally "hammer-keyboard") simply means "piano". It comes from the title page of the work, which says "Große Sonate für das Hammerklavier", i.e. "Grand sonata for piano". At this time, Beethoven was experimenting with using German words for musical terminology rather the conventional Italian. While it does not represent Beethoven's own title (the more sedate Sonata Op. 101 in A has the same description), an imposing-sounding title seems to fit well with the titanic character of the work, and the name has stuck.

Table of contents
1 Structure
2 Further reading
3 External link


The piece is in four movements.

  1. Allegro (A grand opening movement)
  2. Scherzo: Assai vivace (A short movement in three; its main theme has been described as a parody of the first theme of the first movement)
  3. Adagio sostenuto (An exquisite and expansive sonata-form slow movement)
  4. Largo; Fuga; Allegro risoluto (A slow introduction which acts as a sort of fantasia or prelude, and then an aggressive three-voice fugue in several sections)

Further reading

Charles Rosen gives an excellent exposition of the piece, particularly the first movement, in The Classical Style.

External link

The William and Gayle Cook Music Library at the Indiana University School of Music has posted the score for the sonata.