Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas Part 2

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About this course: Welcome to Part 2 of Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas! I'm delighted to launch another set of new lectures of this course as Part 2. As before, this class is meant for people of all levels of experience with Beethoven's music (including no experience at all!). Remember that you are able to watch the lectures as many times as you like, at whatever pace is comfortable for you. As I’ve done with the first set of Beethoven lectures, I look forward to meeting with students—online and in person, in various cities. The dates and locations will be posted in the Announcements and Events section, as part of the course content. So please remember to check back there for detai…

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When you enroll for courses through Coursera you get to choose for a paid plan or for a free plan

  • Free plan: No certicification and/or audit only. You will have access to all course materials except graded items.
  • Paid plan: Commit to earning a Certificate—it's a trusted, shareable way to showcase your new skills.

About this course: Welcome to Part 2 of Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas! I'm delighted to launch another set of new lectures of this course as Part 2. As before, this class is meant for people of all levels of experience with Beethoven's music (including no experience at all!). Remember that you are able to watch the lectures as many times as you like, at whatever pace is comfortable for you. As I’ve done with the first set of Beethoven lectures, I look forward to meeting with students—online and in person, in various cities. The dates and locations will be posted in the Announcements and Events section, as part of the course content. So please remember to check back there for details. In these four new lectures, we will explore the following sonatas: • Sonata Op. 2, No. 3 • Sonata Op. 13 (“Pathetique”) • Sonata Op. 53 (“Waldstein”) • Sonata Op. 90

Created by:  Curtis Institute of Music
  • Taught by:  Jonathan Biss, Neubauer Family Chair in Piano Studies

    Performance Faculty
Level Beginner Language English How To Pass Pass all graded assignments to complete the course. User Ratings 5.0 stars Average User Rating 5.0See what learners said Coursework

Each course is like an interactive textbook, featuring pre-recorded videos, quizzes and projects.

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Curtis Institute of Music The Curtis Institute of Music educates and trains exceptionally gifted young musicians for careers as performing artists on the highest professional level. Innovative programs encourage students to invent 21st-century musical careers through unique "learn by doing" opportunities and over 150 performances per year in Philadelphia and around the globe. One of the world’s leading conservatories, Curtis provides its 165 students with personalized attention from a celebrated faculty and has produced an impressive number of notable artists since its founding in 1924.

Syllabus


WEEK 1


Welcome to Class!



We’re happy that you’ve joined us for Part 2 of Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas course! This course is considered Part 2, with a brand new and separate set of lectures. In Part 2, we will cover Beethoven's Piano Sonatas Op. 2, No. 3, Op. 13 ("Pathetique"), Op. 53 ("Waldstein") and Op. 90 . Please remember that it doesn't matter if you have taken the first part of the previous Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas course. You can jump in here with Part 2 and start learning right away. And if you'd like, you always have the option of going back to take Part 1 of the original course at any time. The items you see here will enable you to get the most out of Part 2 of the course. Please note that there are previous offerings and resources as part of Part 1, and we encourage you to reference those additional items as well.


3 readings expand


  1. Reading: Welcome to this next phase of class!
  2. Reading: Syllabus
  3. Reading: Pre-Course Survey


WEEK 2


Op. 2, No. 3



The course kicks off with Beethoven's Op. 2 No. 3, an exuberant work full of youth and ambition. The work was a huge statement for 26-year-old Beethoven, and in this lecture Mr. Biss examines how Beethoven starts to innovate the sonata as a musical form, even in his very first opus for the solo piano. In doing so, we'll also lay some groundwork for the next few sonatas to be covered in the course.


9 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Video: Getting Under the Hood
  2. Video: Aiming for the Gallery
  3. Video: 1st mvt: Muscularity and Humor
  4. Video: 1st mvt: Athleticism as the Movement's "Glue"
  5. Video: 1st mvt: Cadenza!
  6. Video: 2nd mvt: The Music in the Silences
  7. Video: 2nd mvt: Sonic, Harmonic, and Emotional Variety
  8. Video: 3rd mvt: "Scherzo" means "Joke"!
  9. Video: 4th mvt: And Yet Again, The Curlicue
  10. Reading: Key Terms/Concepts: Op. 2 No. 3

Graded: Op. 2 No. 3

WEEK 3


Op. 13, "Pathetique"



The course continues with Beethoven's Op. 13 Sonata, nicknamed the "Pathétique." Known for its high drama and pathos, the "Pathétique" is a gem from Beethoven's early period and is one of Beethoven's most popular piano sonatas. In this lecture, Mr. Biss uncovers how Beethoven achieves these intense characters within the context of a classical sonata.


9 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Video: A Groundbreaking, Overexposed Masterwork
  2. Video: 1st mvt: The Slow Introduction as a Major Addition to Sonata Form
  3. Video: 1st mvt: An Exposition in Constant Upward Motion
  4. Video: 1st mvt: The Introduction's Complex, Revolutionary Role
  5. Video: 1st mvt: Subverting Expectations until the Bitter End
  6. Video: 2nd mvt: Beethoven at his most Sublimely Lyrical
  7. Video: 2nd mvt: The Emotional Power of Structural Simplicity
  8. Video: 3rd mvt: Introducing an Element of Ambiguity
  9. Video: 3rd mvt: Tying the Movement to the Rest of the Work, Devastatingly
  10. Reading: Key terms/concepts: Op. 13, "Pathetique"

Graded: Op. 13, "Pathetique"

WEEK 4


Op. 53, "Waldstein"



The Op. 53 Sonata, nicknamed the "Waldstein," is a monumental achievement and a cornerstone of the piano repertoire. In this lecture, Mr. Biss explains how Beethoven breaks apart conventions in harmony and form to write one of the most adventurous and thrilling compositions of his middle period.


15 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Video: Rescuing a Masterpiece from Ubiquity
  2. Video: 1st mvt: Establishing the Character -- Immediately
  3. Video: 1st mvt: Using the Mediant -- and Changing Musical History
  4. Video: 1st mvt: Orchestrating on the Piano
  5. Video: 1st mvt: The Darkest of Beethoven's Developments, Part 1
  6. Video: 1st mvt: The Darkest of Beethoven's Developments, Part 2
  7. Video: 1st mvt Recapitulation: Restoring Harmonic Order
  8. Video: 1st mvt Coda: Hard-Earned Triumph
  9. Video: 2nd mvt Introduction: Pointing the Way to the Finale, and the Late Period
  10. Video: 2nd mvt Introduction: Accentuating the Sonata's "Misterioso" Nature
  11. Video: 2nd mvt. Introduction: Towards a Profound Simplicity
  12. Video: 2nd mvt: At Last, Harmonic Stability
  13. Video: 2nd mvt: Leaving the Reverie, and Returning
  14. Video: 2nd mvt: Going Briefly Off-Script
  15. Video: 2nd mvt Coda: Taking the Material to its Limit
  16. Reading: Key terms/concepts: Op. 53, "Waldstein"

Graded: Op. 53, "Waldstein"

WEEK 5


Op. 90



The final sonata in this course is Beethoven's Op. 90. As Beethoven had not written a piano sonata for five years prior to the composition of Op. 90, Mr. Biss examines this work as a beginning of a late, mature style and a harbinger of great things to come. We will also uncover how Beethoven, ever the innovator, manages to elevate the sonata form into a new, unfathomable realm.


8 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Video: No Rhetoric; No Third Movement
  2. Video: 1st mvt: Anger and Resignation, Juxtaposed
  3. Video: 1st mvt: Intensity and Nuance in a Highly Concentrated Form
  4. Video: 1st mvt: Using Harmonic Ambiguity to Create a Peculiar Power
  5. Video: 1st mvt: A Devastating Resolution
  6. Video: 2nd mvt: Rebirth; The Sonata's Movements as Yin and Yang
  7. Video: 2nd mvt: Repetitiveness as a Virtue
  8. Video: 2nd mvt: Paving the Road to the Late Period
  9. Reading: Key Terms/Concepts: Op. 90

Graded: Op. 90

WEEK 6


Listening to the Sonatas
To supplement your learning during the course, enjoy free access to several of the Jonathan's Beethoven Sonatas recordings.


1 reading expand


  1. Reading: Jonathan Biss' Recordings


WEEK 7


Feedback Please!
We hope you enjoyed the course. Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts with us.


1 reading expand


  1. Reading: Feedback
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