Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata

I agree with the great German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 -1900) that “without music, life would be a mistake.” Music — together with literature and poetry — helps me keep my balance, beside being a source of pure joy. I love to share what I enjoy.

Here I present to you a perennial favorite, the “Moonlight Sonata” by another German genius, Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827.) He  completed writing it in 1801.

Thus it has been around for nearly 220 years and is one of the crowning pieces of the Western musical canon, and will last as long as that tradition endures, which is likely to be at least a couple of centuries. It’s an example of those rare successful attempts by humans to achieve the sublime.

A few more notes about the piece from the wiki article (linked above). It’s Beethoven’s “Piano Sonata No. 14 in C♯ minor”, Op. 27 No. 2. He titled it Quasi una fantasia — “in the manner of a fantasy.” It acquired the popular name “Moonlight Sonata” because the German music critic Ludwig Rellstab described the first movement of the sonata as “moonlight shining upon Lake Lucerne.” That was in 1832, five years after Beethoven’s death.

The sonata is in three movements. The first movement is played pianissimo or “very quietly”. It does get to piano or “quietly” at times. It was described by Berlioz as “one of those poems that human language does not know how to qualify”.

The second movement is relatively calm compared to the third. The Hungarian composer Franz Liszt described the second movement as “a flower between two chasms.” The third movement is the most important part of the sonata. It is fierce. The American pianist and music writer wrote that “it is the most unbridled in its representation of emotion. Even today, two hundred years later, its ferocity is astonishing.” It demands stamina and virtuosity.

I listen to quite a bit of music on YouTube. One of the advantages of that is the comments’ section. You get to participate in a virtual community of people who share the same love of music. Here are a few comments to the video to give you a sense of what to expect.

1st movement makes you fall asleep
2nd movement makes you to have good dreams
3rd movement is the alarm


1st mov: “See? This is not that hard, you can play this too.”
2nd mov: “don’t worry, you can master it in couple weeks if you keep practicing.”


1° movement – Class lesson
2° movement – Homework
3° movement – Exam


Beethoven must have had a wild dream or nightmare in the 3rd movement after basting in the full moon light that night, and then changed into a werewolf racing through the forest.

Alright, enough of talk. Time to listen. For your reference, the second movements stars at 7:11 time stamp, and the third at 10:14. The pianist? “Hello, I’m Rousseau, I make piano covers of classical and pop songs with a reactive visualizer. New videos every Monday!”

That Rousseau guy is good. Before I end this piece, here’s another piece by him. The composition is by the Italian composer and pianist Ludovio Einaudi.

I first came across it in the French movie “The Intouchables.” Just by the way, if you have not watched that movie, you are in for a treat. It’s really one of those movies that give you the warm and fuzzies. Watch it.

Have a good weekend. Cheers. Bye.



Author: Atanu Dey


2 thoughts on “Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata”

  1. Mahler’s Adagietto(Also the opening music of that pedophilia(romanticized) movie ‘Death in Venice’ which was supposed to be a real life encounter of Thomas Mann instead. The main character switched from that of a writer to a composer…)


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