Although there’s no authentic record of Beethoven’s day of birth, the registry of his baptism on 17th December 1770 has survived. Since it was custom to baptise within 24 hours of birth, the consensus is that his birthday was the 16th of December.

To celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday tomorrow, we’ve created an instalment in our #piecestoplay series featuring a selection of piano works at various levels and our resources for them.

Beethoven in 1803, painted by Christian Horneman

Ecossaise in E-Flat (No. 4 from Six Ecossaises, WoO 83)

A lively dance in 2/4 time, an ecossaise is actually the French word for “Scottish”! This piece is currently set as Grade 3 in the 2021 & 2022 ABRSM piano examination syllabus. Click here to view a video-walkthrough for this work.

Sonatina in G (Anh. 5 No. 1)

Although there are some questions as to whether this work is correctly attributed to Beethoven, it offers an excellent opportunity to assimilate essential elements of the Classical style: articulation, balance, ornamentation, and clear phrasing.

Click here to view our From the Ground Up edition which provides a step-by-step approach to learning or teaching this piece.

Für Elise (Bagatelle No. 25 in A Minor)

This evergreen miniature of Beethoven scarcely needs any introduction at all and many pianists attempt it before they are ready for it. This video from our Q-Spot series shows how to use quarantining and other practice tools to tackle two challenging spots within the work.

Bagatelle in E-Flat (No.1 from Seven Bagatelles, Op. 33)

Beethoven wrote short pieces (which he called “trifles”) throughout his creative life, which he published in three collections. This piece is the first from the earliest set, Op. 33 and is set as Grade 7 in the 2021 & 2022 piano examination syllabus. Click here to view a video walk-through of this work from our collection of resources for the syllabus.

“Moonlight” Sonata in C# Minor (Op. 27, No. 2)

This work is one of the most famous pieces written for the piano. Completed in 1801, the name “Moonlight Sonata” was not given by Beethoven but comes from German poet and music critic Ludwig Rellstab who, five years after Beethoven’s death, compared the effect of the first movement to moonlight shining on Lake Lucerne. Click here to view an article on pedalling in this work or here for some tips on how to project the melody.

Sonata Pathétique in C Minor (Op. 13)

This sonata was a great success in establishing Beethoven’s reputation as a composer at the time – the work was instantly popular and has remained so to this day. Pianists respond to the drama and intensity of the music and clamour to learn it. This series of eleven videos looks at challenges posed throughout all three movements, giving interpretative and technical guidelines as well as suggestions for practice.

More Beethoven Resources Coming!

We’re delighted to announce that we’ve embarked upon a project to film walk-throughs of Beethoven’s 32 Piano Sonatas with pianist, teacher and captain of the Piano Boat, Masayuki Tayama. These videos will be added to the Online Academy’s growing repertoire library and will provide insights on interpretation, style and technique for each of the Sonatas.

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