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Beethoven’s Appassionata: a tough nut for me April 12, 2006

Posted by dorigo in music, personal.

Lately I have started a fight with my own fingers in order to manage to play (I do not mean play well: just play!) the third movement of Beethoven's Appassionata, a Sonata for piano which is absolutely a masterpiece but which presents some non trivial challenges to the occasional piano player.

Typically I come home at 7PM, have dinner with my family, and then will spend 15 to 20 minutes on some part of the third movement. It is tough… Of course, to achieve a good mastering of such a difficult piece I would need at least two hours of study per day – for several weeks. And I doubt I could get anywhere near to being happy of my reproduction of the music, in any case.

But I try… And I have fun in the meantime. My family maybe less so, although I often revert to using the earphones – that benefit of an electronic piano cannot be overstated.

Today, I just threw my hands up after trying to get to a decent level of play of a particular segment of the third movement: it is a "stretto", like a canone where the two hands play the same theme with very little offset. Here is the music sheet of the part I am talking about:

the stretto in the third movementIt may seem easy, but it is presently giving me a hard time. Of course, once one learns the key-to-finger map in one's brain, one can move on and the thing will play itself… Not yet.



1. john - June 25, 2006

hey stick in there youll get it. im learning this piece too ive been looking at it it for two days and already i can play the left and right hand up to speed what u got there. you need to take it real slow at first ( right hand only ) then apply the left a bit at a time. hope this help lol. give me a shout if not.

2. dorigo - June 26, 2006

Hi John,
thank you for your encouragement… Yes, I have finally managed this part of the movement, and others as well. I can now play the full movement at a decent speed, maybe 15% less than what probably would be best.
I am now trying to give it a bit more “feeling”…

3. Ricky Sasmal - September 9, 2007

Whenever I play the third movement, I don’t know what I happens but somehow I wakeup on my bed naked…So I stopped doing it a while ago–I live alone.
I am really scared, do you know what this means? I am only 15.

4. dorigo - September 10, 2007

Dear Ricky,

you live alone at 15 ?

I have no help for you, unfortunately. Either see a piano teacher or a psychologist.


5. Tom - May 8, 2008

I just read today that Beethoven wrote this piece without without worrying about how difficult it would be for a less-than-stellar pianist. so don’t get too upset with yourself if it’s too much. I don’t mean for that to sound condescending, so sorry if it does.

6. dorigo - May 8, 2008

Hi Tom,

thank you for the consolatory words… Indeed, the Appassionata is for few pianists. But I do play it because I get a lot of pleasure from it, even if I have to stop every five seconds… No, I am not upset. I know my limits by now.


7. Elena - October 26, 2008

Perhaps you have by now mastered this section. I find it helpful to slightly slow down or a slight wrist motion on the second beat of the second, fourth and sixth majors of that section.

8. Scarlett - April 30, 2009

I am just thinking I am going to attempt this piece…but I don’t think I can do it any justice. Have you all heard Valentina Listista’s recording of it? I personally love it.

dorigo - April 30, 2009

Try it. It is tough even if slowed down a little, but rewarding. Some parts are really complicated, others much easier.


9. Shamal - July 21, 2009

Dear Dorigo,

Someone told me that they put the previous comment today, using my name. Can you please delete it?


10. Ricky Sasmal - December 20, 2009

Delete the comment about me waking up on the bed naked.

11. Ricky Sasmal - December 20, 2009

And the previous one about me asking you to delete that comment and this oen.

12. Ricky Sasmal - December 20, 2009

this one* (and this one as well)

13. Nigel - February 24, 2010

Um, Jorge. No i don’t!

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