Beethoven wrote his 32 piano sonatas between the ages of 25 and 55, thus they span the composer’s so-called early, middle and late periods and paint a rich picture of his stylistic development.

When I study a Beethoven sonata, I like to consult two or three different editions but my working score is Henle Urtext – that’s where I put in my fingerings and other annotations. While I have a soft spot for the commentary and fingerings in the old Craxton-Tovey ABRSM edition, the latest ABRSM version by Barry Cooper is more scholarly, with editorial slurs and other unhelpful markings removed from their earlier publication (when such tampering mattered less). Artur Schnabel’s edition makes an excellent supplement to a standard Urtext, and it is also worth looking at Hans von Bülow’s for fingerings and footnotes (available on IMSLP). There are some recent Henle editions of individual sonatas with excellent fingerings by Murray Perahia, I heartily recommend these.

Masque de Beethoven

I would urge you to listen to the podcasts of András Schiff’s Wigmore Hall lecture recitals on each of the sonatas. Books I can recommend include A Companion to Beethoven’s Pianoforte Sonatas by Donald Francis Tovey; Beethoven’s Pianoforte Sonatas: A Short Companionby Charles Rosen and for a more general handbook I think Performance Practices in Classic Piano Music by Sondra P. Rosenblum should be on every pianist’s bookshelf. I have heard great things about Jonathan Biss’s online course, Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas.

I was a contributor to the latest special edition from Pianist Magazine – Great Piano Composers of the Classical Era, with my article on the Beethoven sonatas. For more details, click here.

Here are some of the best of the masterclasses available on YouTube. Please let me know if you find any more you feel should be represented.

Since publishing this post, a reader has recommended John Suchet’s Beethoven: The Man Revealed. According to the blurb:

This is not the god-like immortal portrayed in statues and paintings in heroic pose garlanded with laurel leaves. Beethoven may have been one of the greatest artists who ever lived, but he was still a man who had to live among fellow mortals, eat and drink, fall in love, pay his rent. This is the real Beethoven, and Suchet brings him effortlessly to life.

Daniel Barenboim

Leon Fleisher (audio)

Leif Ove Andsnes

Emanuel Ax

Andras Schiff

Andras Schiff on op. 109

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Practising the Piano eBook Series Part 4

I am delighted to announce that Part 4 of my eBook Series is now available. You can purchase Practising the Piano Part 4 (priced at £9.99) directly from my website. It is also available on Amazon Kindle and for pre-order on the Apple iBookstore (click here for the full series catalogue which contains links to the individual volumes on all platforms).

The full series (Parts 1 to 4) can now be purchased for £35.99 (a discount of 20% off the individual part prices). If you already own one or more parts of Practising the Piano you can also take advantage of further discount bundles to complete your collection. These can be viewed on the series catalogue page here.

If you would like a video introduction and more information on the contents of Part 4, please follow this link.

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Click on the “Buy” button below to purchase Part 4 of Practising The Piano now:

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Further information on the complete series is also available here and additional discount bundle combinations are available on the series catalogue here.