Welcome once again, Courserians, to a new set of lectures of Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas. This is the 3rd or 4th installment of the course, depending on how you count – even I’m a little confused at this point! At any rate, to the existing 12 lectures, we are now adding four more, again covering sonatas from very different junctures in Beethoven’s life. One exciting aspect for me in continuing the course is that I really feel that we’ve grown together. I hope you’ve gained some knowledge from the lectures up to this point, but I know I have. Preparing them always forces me to think in new ways about Beethoven’s sonatas, and with music this rich, that process is unfailingly rewarding. So once again, in preparing these new lectures, I’ve tried to put my focus on features of the sonatas that we haven’t already discussed. There really is no end to this music’s invention: one can keep digging deeper and deeper into it. It’s great to be back. So, today’s lecture is on the sonata in c minor, Opus 10 number 1, a wonderful work from the early period. I actually briefly touched on this sonata in the fifth lecture of the first part of the course – the lecture titled "Towards Infinity". But back then, I really just used it as a point of comparison with opus 109, which was the real subject of the lecture. So in addition to not delving into the piece, in that lecture I really focused on all the things it isn't. Now, unshackling it from opus 109, we can talk about what it is: a powerful and inventive sonata in its own right. Op 10 no 1 is, obviously, an early work: it was completed in 1798, but Beethoven likely began working on it a year or two before that. So, it's a product of his late twenties. You may remember the sonata opus 10 number 2, which was one of the subjects of the sixth lecture of this course. (MUSIC) Opus 10 is a set of three sonatas. Beethoven seems to have had a thing for composing in groups of three. Opus 10 is one of 3 times that he published three piano sonatas as an opus. Then, there are the final three sonatas – opp. 109, 110 and 111 – which also form a unit, up to a point. And then the sonatas opp, 78, 79, and 81a, which were all written in quick succession as well. In each of these cases, the three sonatas have highly contrasting characters. As you’ll remember, opus 10 number 2 is a witty and playful piece. There is really almost nothing of those qualities in opus 10 number 1. This is a piece of great dramatic intensity; it is in c minor, and very much emblematic of Beethoven’s "c minor mood." Now, "c minor mood" is a pretty vague phrase: it’s notoriously difficult to describe music’s character in words, but I’m going to try to get closer to the essence of what this "mood" is. Beethoven wrote in c minor significantly more often than he did in any other minor key: by my count, there are 9 large-scale, multi-movement works in this key, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there's others that I’m missing. No other minor key features even half as much in Beethoven’s output. While most of those nine works are piano sonatas or chamber music, the most celebrated example of Beethoven in c minor is, of course, the 5th symphony. (MUSIC) I’m sure I don’t need to play more! The 5th symphony is, quite possibly, the most celebrated piece of classical music, and luckily, it is pretty much the perfect example of this c minor mood. First of all, it’s intense, but that doesn’t tell you much: Beethoven is usually intense, in one way or another. The qualities that define it and are more specific to it are terseness and defiance. The first movement of the 5th symphony derives its intensity from the fact that it is an extremely compact structure. Beethoven is incredibly resourceful with a small amount of material – that opening four-note motive forms the basis for an amazing percentage of the movement. The rate of motion is always fast, there are no wasted notes, and there is almost no "bridge" material – we move from section to section without elaboration. The famous moment in the recapitulation, where the solo oboe plays a kind of cadenza, out of tempo, (MUSIC) it's so powerful because it's really the only point in the movement at which the momentum flags: a point at which Beethoven lets some air into an otherwise airless structure. This airlessness – this terseness – is typical of Beethoven in c minor mode, and it is very much in evidence in Op. 10 no. 1. So that’s "terseness". "Defiance" is a more subjective quality, but I think it would be hard not to hear it in the 5th symphony and so many of these other c minor pieces: in the third piano concerto, in the sonata op. 111, in the c minor string trio. And I think it is RELATED to the fact that these pieces are so terse, so concise. They feel especially explosive because they rarely relax or relent, They are "defiant" not just because they're combative, but because they never stop being combative. This is a quality one finds in Beethoven works in many other minor keys – think of the Appassionata, in f minor – but one finds it consistently across so many of the c minor pieces. And again, this feeling of constant combat is certainly present in opus 10 number 1.