Ludwig van Beethoven

Sonata for violin & piano No. 9 in A major ("Kreutzer"), Op. 47

    Description by John Palmer

    Although the "Kreutzer" Sonata, Op. 47, is dedicated to Rodolphe Kreutzer, the original dedication was to George P. Bridgetower (1779-1860), for whom the piece was written. Bridgetower, an African-Polish violinist who lived in London, toured Europe in 1802 and 1803. Upon his arrival in Vienna he was introduced by Prince Lichnowsky to Beethoven, who set about fashioning two movements to precede a finale he had originally intended for the Op. 30/1 sonata. Because the date for Bridgetower's concert had been set, Beethoven had to work quickly to complete the virtuosic piece before its first performance by Bridgetower and the composer on May 24, 1803.

    Rodolphe Kreutzer (1766-1831) was a French violinist of great renown whom Beethoven met in Vienna in 1798. Beethoven's decision to dedicate the sonata to Kreutzer instead of Bridgetower was probably related to his intended move to Paris and a wish to ingratiate himself with French musical luminaries. (Beethoven was also considering "Bonaparte" as a title for his Third Symphony.) Legend has it that Beethoven changed the dedication because he and Bridgetower quarreled over a woman. Kreutzer most likely never knew of the dedication, and it is almost certain that he never played the piece.

    The "Kreutzer" Sonata was published in 1805 by Simrock in Bonn and Birchall in London. Beethoven described the piece as "written in a very concertante style, like that of a concerto," explaining the internal conflict generally associated with his larger works. Furthermore, the piano writing is much more powerful than in preceding works, anticipating the piano sonatas Opp. 53 and 54.

    Beethoven's "new path" is everywhere evident in the first movement of the "Kreutzer" Sonata. The only slow introduction Beethoven ever wrote for a violin sonata is actually the only portion of the movement in A major, which gives way to A minor at the beginning of the Presto sonata-form section. Although thematic material is very abundant, Beethoven focuses on one theme from the closing group throughout the development, which spirals progressively deeper into flat-key territory, realizing the implications of B flat major's brief appearance early in the exposition. Development of the first theme does not occur until the lengthy, weighty coda, which is much more symphonic than chamber-style in conception. The vast dimensions and free formal treatment of Beethoven's great middle-period works are not far away.

    More lighthearted than the preceding movement, the central Andante, in F major, is a set of variations. The third of the four variations is in the tonic minor. In each variation, Beethoven stretches the melodic aspect of the theme nearly beyond recognition while maintaining the harmonic progression and pattern of repetition of the original.

    A tarantella rhythm and 6/8 time contribute to the finale's atmosphere of interminable forward motion, which is enhanced by the introduction of the first theme in a fugal treatment, The sonata-form movement features a second theme on the dominant and in 2/4, which shifts immediately back to 6/8 for the closing material. Because it was originally intended for the Sonata in A major, Op. 30/1, the finale was extant months before Beethoven composed the first two movements. The prominence of F major in the development section of the finale may have prompted Beethoven to compose the Andante in that key, as well as to touch on flat keys in the first movement. In Tolstoy's novella The Kreutzer Sonata, the work symbolizes the ultimate in the powerful sensuous appeal of music.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Adagio sostenuto - Presto
    2. Andante con Variazioni
    3. Finale. Presto

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Menuetto Classics
    2018 Urania Records WS 121365
    2018 Warner Classics
    2018 Warner Classics 573598
    2017 Brilliant Classics 95191
    2017 Onyx / Onyx Classics ONYX 4170
    2017 Warner Classics 0190295763084
    2017 Rhine Classics RH 001
    2017 Danacord DACOCD 781782
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4796220
    2016 Avie AVR 2363
    2016 Dux Records 1146
    2016 Aparte AP 129
    2016 Chandos CHAN 108883
    2016 Nimbus Alliance NI 6247
    2016 Skylark Music SKY 0101
    2016 Gramola GRAM 99106
    2016 Alpha ALPHA 240
    2016 Navona Records NV 6024
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4795964
    2016 Praga / Praga Digitals PRD 250322
    2016 RCA Red Seal 88843095342
    2016 Sono Luminus DSL 92204
    2016 EuroArts / Warner Classics 555050
    2016 Warner Classics 0825646777068
    2016 Warner Classics 555054
    2016 RCA Red Seal 88875198542
    2015 Warner Classics 552422
    2015 Challenge Classics CC 72650
    2015 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 14026
    2015 Coro CRO 16138
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 4794708
    2015 RCA Red Seal 88875051042
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 4794647
    2014 Centaur Records CRC 3322232425
    2014 Crystal Records / Crystal Records Dist. CD 881
    2014 Warner Classics 2564634929
    2014 Warner Classics 541222
    2014 Naïve NC 40036
    2014 Warner Classics 5099901928129
    2014 Supraphon SU 41622
    2014 RCA Red Seal 88843003502
    2014 Gramola GRAM 99050
    2014 Erato 2564624223
    2013 Wigmore Hall Live WHLIVE 0056
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94630
    2013 Le Marquis / Marquis Classics MQSCD 81517
    2013 Phaia Music PHU 03234
    2013 Warner Classics
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon 4791679
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon / Universal Music
    2013 Decca
    2013 Camerata Records CAM 28259
    2013 Entertainment Group 11610
    2013 Phil.Harmonie PHIL 6022
    2013 Naxos 8501064
    2013 RCA Red Seal 8876544015
    2013 Roméo Records / Romeo Records RR 7295/96
    2013 Centaur Records 3224
    2013 Regis Records 7010
    2013 IDIS IDIS 6657
    2013 Decca 4785093
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099970490
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon 001649002
    2012 Zig Zag / Zig Zag Territoires ZIG 307
    2012 Brilliant Classics 94310
    2012 Sony Classical 88697962622
    2012 The Bridge / Bridge BRIDGE 9389AD
    2012 Supraphon SU 40772
    2012 Entertainment Group 4023
    2012 Brilliant Classics 8402
    2012 IDIS / Idis 6645
    2012 Music & Arts MA 1225
    2012 Danacord DACOCD 714715
    2012 Gall (formerly Gallo) CD 1352
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon 002894779464
    2011 RCA Red Seal 886919369120
    2011 Doremi Records DHR 80113
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94052
    2011 Ligia 302202
    2011 Decca 4780457
    2011 Decca
    2011 Decca
    2011 Royal Philharmonic Masterworks / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra RPM 29050
    2011 Wigmore Hall Live WHLive0045
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099908528
    2011 EMI Classics
    2011 Urania 121107
    2011 Phaedra 292021
    2011 Challenge Classics CC 72524
    2011 ZYX / ZYX Music CLA 10118
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 EtCetera Records 1904
    2010 Erato
    2010 Erato / Virgin Classics 5099964200
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Nimbus 2553/56
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Decca
    2010 Decca
    2010 Onyx ONYX 4050
    2010 Decca 4782541
    2010 Decca
    2010 Music@Menlo LIVE MML 004
    2010 Teldec 256468103
    2009 Doremi Records 7946-9
    2009 IDIS / Ital Disc 656062
    2009 Accent 24211
    2009 Denon Records 00795041942029
    2009 Coviello Classics 20904
    2009 Deutsche Grammophon 4641222
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099926504
    2009 Decca
    2009 Decca 4781149
    2009 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099926413
    2008 EMI Classics 217304
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 447058
    2008 Romeo Entertainment 7266/8
    2008 Bella Musica / Zebralution
    2008 EMI Classics
    2008 Berlin Classics 149312
    2008 Warner Classics
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099921471
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099921731
    2008 Naïve V 5146
    2008 Woodhouse Editions 803/6
    2008 Brilliant 93161
    2008 Urania 350
    2007 Urania 22307
    2007 Brilliant 93329
    2007 Cascade Records 2200
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93525
    2007 Opus KURA 2069
    2007 Claves 2610
    2007 EMI Classics 87739
    2007 EMI Classics 3777672
    2007 Decca 4758460
    2007 Decca
    2007 Deutsche Grammophon 0009663
    2007 Harmonia Mundi 901944
    2007 Apex
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    2007 VAI Audio 4395
    2007 Christopher Nupen Films A06CND
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    2007 Warner Classics 8570260
    2007 Decca 4758371
    2006 Preiser Records 90703
    2006 Cypres Records 1640
    2006 Rca Red Seal 667888
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    2006 Deutsche Grammophon 4762150
    2006 EMI Classics
    2006 EMI Classics 0946365224
    2006 Amon Ra 16
    2006 Biddulph Recordings 80210
    2006 Music & Arts CD1187
    2006 IDIS 6488/9
    2006 Brilliant 93030
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 Opus KURA 2055
    2005 Deutsche Grammophon 000459902
    2005 Cello Classics 1014
    2005 Opus KURA 7009
    2005 Deutsche Grammophon
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    2005 Bridge 9165
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    2004 Metier 2004
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    2004 Artemis Classics 1585
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    2004 Deutsche Grammophon 000292102
    2004 Naxos Historical 8110775
    2004 Opus KURA 2048
    2004 ESS.A.Y. 1083
    2004 Naxos Historical 8110736
    2004 Testament 1344
    2003 Ivory Records IVCD73003
    2003 Classica d'Oro 2019
    2003 Andante 1090
    2003 Deutsche Grammophon 471641
    2003 Doremi Records 7807
    2003 Orfeo 590021
    2003 Decca
    2003 Decca 000017802
    2002 Dynamic 393
    2002 Naxos 8110195
    2002 Centaur Records 2803/05
    2002 Deutsche Grammophon 471495
    2002 Calliope 3251/3
    2002 EMI Music Distribution 74804
    2002 APR (Appian) 5610
    2002 Symposium 1300
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 74447
    2001 Deutsche Grammophon 463605
    2001 Hungaroton Echo Collection 1008
    2001 Philips 468406
    2001 Tahra 409-412
    2001 Bayer Dacapo 200053
    2001 Hungaroton 12330
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 565961
    2000 Disques Pierre Verany 730079
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    2000 Biddulph Recordings 80203
    2000 Urania 112
    2000 Rca Red Seal 63040
    2000 Soundspells Productions 128
    1999 Camerata Records 30CM531
    1999 Angel Records / Warner Classics 7243556815
    1999 Brilliant 99093
    1999 Fono Enterprise 340
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon
    1999 Decca 458618
    1999 Pearl 9395
    1999 EMI Music Distribution 73650
    1999 Decca 4368952
    1999 Grammofono 2000 78876
    1999 Iron Needle 1425
    1999 Music & Arts 4665
    1999 Classical Collection 62000
    1999 Biddulph Recordings 076
    1999 Biddulph Recordings 162/63
    1999 Biddulph Recordings 124/5
    1999 RCA Red Seal 63000
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 463175
    1998 One-Eleven 96010
    1998 Nimbus Records 5557
    1998 EMI Music Distribution 66874
    1998 Deutsche Grammophon 457619
    1998 Magic Talent 48062
    1998 Deutsche Grammophon 459014
    1998 Arbiter ARBITER115
    1998 Deutsche Grammophon 459 067-2GCC10
    1998 APR (Appian) 7017
    1997 Arte Nova 74321 43311-2
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 453 804-2GCB6
    1997 Harmonia Mundi 926003
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 453 743-2GCB4
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 453700
    1997 Testament 1115
    1997 Biddulph Recordings 07778
    1997 RCA Victor 61738
    1996 Sony Classical 67196
    1996 Deutsche Grammophon 447917
    1996 Harmonia Mundi 901580
    1996 Philips 446524
    1996 Sony Classical 64524
    1996 Camerata Records 32CM266
    1996 RCA 77413
    1996 Deutsche Grammophon 447054
    1996 Discover 920142
    1995 Vox / Vox Box 3503
    1995 ZYX Music 4069
    1995 Teldec 95998
    1994 Vanguard Classics 4080
    1994 RCA 61861
    1994 Chandos 9297
    1994 EMI Music Distribution 64929
    1993 IMP Classics 833
    1993 Sony Music Distribution 48076
    1993 RCA 61561
    1993 Vanguard 8008
    1992 EMI Music Distribution 64057
    1992 Teldec 174001
    1992 Naxos 8550283
    1992 EMI Music Distribution 64631
    1991 Sony Music Distribution 46342
    1989 Deutsche Grammophon
    1989 Deutsche Grammophon 4272512
    1988 London 421453
    1985 Philips Classics 412 255-2PH
    1984 Philips 412570
    1983 London 410554
    Vanguard 1583
    Hungaroton 1232931
    Pearl 0019
    MusicMasters 67197
    LYS 444-445
    BMG 60991
    RCA 7706
    Cascade Records 2240
    Amado Classics 03023
    Imperial Classics 62002
    Corona Classic Collection 0000912CCC
    Fonit-Cetra Italia 116
    White Label 105
    Sarx 2030
    Teldec 75856
    Deutsche Grammophon 415874
    Pilz 160180
    Newport Classic 60097
    Digital Masterworks 71807
    Meridian Records 89019
    Vox 8082
    MusicMasters 67087
    Grammofono 2000 78543
    DHM Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 38223-25
    Calliope 9251
    Brilliant 99115
    Brilliant 93161/6
    Brilliant 92387/22
    Fono Enterprise 99346
    CBS Records 39680
    Lys 33/35
    Russian Revelation 10047
    Teldec 89079
    EMI Music Distribution 69021
    Brilliant 93525/32
    Classica d'Oro 2004
    Grammofono 2000 78884
    Apex
    Monopoly 2042
    Magic 48011
    BMG 0902661747
    Brilliant Classics 8402/10
    Nicholas Szucs
    Fono Enterprise 99353
    Brilliant 93030/3
    EMI Music Distribution 69789
    Connoisseur Society 4178
    Music & Arts 665
    EMI Classics 98667
    Fone 20
    One-Eleven 93050
    Chambermusik 52523
    Sirio 530012
    Biddulph Recordings 08182
    Strings 318-9
    Musical Heritage 5091707