Beethoven's 'Kreutzer' Is a 'Religious Experience' for Today's Virtuosos
Born of a tempestuous past, Beethoven's 'Kreutzer' sonata has become the most famous violin sonata ever written
Almost from the very moment of its inspiration, Beethoven's "Kreutzer" sonata, a musical jewel of incendiary beauty born in a cauldron of creative intoxication, has ignited passion and controversy. Beginning with four bars that consciously look back at Bach's music for unaccompanied violin, and ending 40 minutes later in a delirious crescendo of triumph that heralds the arrival of the 19th century and with it, the explosion of the composer's powers, the Violin Sonata No. 9 in A major, Op. 47, has become the most famous violin sonata ever written. Like all of the greatest music Beethoven wrote, it pushes both performers to musical and technical limits that they still find imposing today, more than 200 years after its composition.
It was composed during the surge of Beethoven's musical energy following the despair expressed in his anguished "Heiligenstadt Testament" of 1802. The Kreutzer demonstrates for the first time how huge a musical weight the violin can shoulder. In doing so, it establishes forever the equality of the violin with the piano in the sonata genre.
This article, "Beethoven's 'Kreutzer' Is a 'Religious Experience' for Today's Virtuosos ," is part of the Strings Archive, which you can access with a paid site subscription.
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