Violin Sonata No. 9 (Beethoven)

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Title page of the "Kreutzer Sonata"

Ludwig van Beethoven's Sonata for Piano and Violin No. 9 in A major, Op. 47 , was written in 1802 and is commonly known as the Kreutzer Sonata . The roughly 40-minute work is characterized by rich sound (the violin begins with a polyphonic solo), virtuosity, surprising modulations, wide melodic arcs and varied movements - from the furious first movement to the meditating second to the jubilant finale. Like all “violin sonatas” by Mozart and Beethoven, it is written “for pianoforte and violin”, not for “violin and piano”. This designation came up later in the "Romanticism".

The sonata was originally dedicated to the violinist George Bridgetower (1779–1860), who premiered the work on May 24, 1803 with Beethoven. After the performance, however, there should have been an argument between the two over a girl, so that Beethoven deleted the dedication again. According to Beethoven biographer Thayer , Bridgetower insulted a woman who Beethoven valued, which made him extremely angry. The work was dedicated to the French violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer (1766–1831). Ironically, Kreutzer never played the sonata and even declared it unplayable.


The first bars of the first movement

The piece is in three movements :

  1. Adagio sostenuto - Presto (about 12 minutes playing time)
  2. Andante con variazioni (about 16 minutes playing time)
  3. Presto (about 9 minutes playing time)

Adagio sostenuto - Presto

The sonata begins with a slow 18-bar introduction, with only the first four solo bars of the violin - with wide chords - in A major before the piano is added. The harmonies darken and lean towards the A minor area, the sonata seems to have stood still at the beginning - until suddenly an angry A minor Presto begins. Characteristic are the briefly struck chords of both instruments and the rapid tremolos and runs - only the soft 2nd theme in E major , later E minor , which extends in whole notes , ensures moderation. The recapitulation undergoes some changes, and at the end the opening adagio sounds again before the whole movement comes to an end over fast runs.

Andante con variazioni

An extremely contrasting set of variations follows. A mild F major melody is processed five times in a very multifaceted way. In var. 1 the piano is in the foreground: the theme decorated by trills is played over triplets , the violin emits isolated (and effective) tone repetitions. Var. 2, on the other hand, is that of the violin, which now presents the theme in 32nds. The var. 3 briefly darkens the atmosphere because it is in F minor . But already the Var. 4 brings the listener back to the light, ornate mood of the first two variations, as the theme now seems even more resolved into figurations and trills. After a short adagio the Var ends . 5 the movement with a little more drama, but still in a light-hearted F major.


The calm is suddenly interrupted by a crashing A major chord, which introduces the virtuoso and exuberant third movement. This is a tarantella in rondo form and is in 6/8 time. Several parts are inserted in 2/4 time, which with a somewhat calmer theme are in slight contrast to the frenzied rest of this fiery finale. This movement was originally written for the "small" A major sonata op. 30 No. 1 , but Beethoven adopted it in the later sonata (see below).


The sonata is mostly called in A major, although incorrectly. However, Beethoven did not specify any key at all (see title page above). The Austrian composer and music theorist Gerhard Present has shown in several articles that this sonata is in A minor as the main key, as well as thematic relationships to the 6th Violin Sonata, Op. 30 No. 1, for which the 3rd movement was originally intended, discovered. He is of the opinion that the introductory solo bars of the violin represent a kind of transition from the earlier sonata (or its structural material) to the later one, which also proves that the final from op. 30 No. 1 was adopted by the Kreutzer sonata was a compositional intention - and not a result of a long suspected time constraint.


See also


  • ESTA-Nachrichten (European String Teachers Association) No. 51, March 2004, p. 13 ff., Stuttgart
  • Announcements of the Styrian Tonkünstlerbund , No. 1/2, June 2003, Graz
  • Gerhard Present: The 'Kreutzer' was not written in A major . In: The Strad , London, October 1999, p. 1023

Web links

Commons : Violin Sonata No. 9 (Beethoven)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Klaus Martin Kopitz , Rainer Cadenbach (Ed.) U. a .: Beethoven from the point of view of his contemporaries in diaries, letters, poems and memories. Volume 1: Adamberger - Kuffner. Edited by the Beethoven Research Center at the Berlin University of the Arts. Henle, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-87328-120-2 , p. 127.
  2. Alexander Wheelock Thayer : Thayer's Life of Beethoven . ed. Elliot Forbes. Princeton University Press, 1993, pp. 332-333.
  3. Klaus Martin Kopitz, Rainer Cadenbach (Ed.) U. a .: Beethoven from the point of view of his contemporaries in diaries, letters, poems and memories. Volume 2: Lachner - Zmeskall. Edited by the Beethoven Research Center at the Berlin University of the Arts. Henle, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-87328-120-2 , p. 1020.