Ludwig van Beethoven

Sonatina for piano in F major, WoO 50 (2 movements)

    Description by Robert Cummings

    This work is sometimes listed in catalogs as the Sonatina in F. Of the two surviving movements, only the second bears a tempo marking, Allegretto. The year of its composition has been dated as far back as 1787 and as late as 1792. It appears, however, that this pair of movements was written in or just before 1790, as will later be seen.

    The sonatina was not published until 1950 and even then was hardly regarded as a major find. That is not to suggest that the music is without merit: Beethoven created a lovely first movement, whose songfulness can be quite entrancing. True, it shows the influence of Mozart, but its charm and thematic appeal make it a worthwhile movement, brief though it is.

    The Allegretto second movement is perhaps a bit less interesting. Its main theme lacks distinction and the writing in general is not particularly compelling. Still, the whole work at least serves the purpose of allowing the listener a view of the youthful composer as he was evolving his style. The first movement was dedicated to Franz Gerhard Wegeler, for whom Beethoven wrote the music. Even though the piece carries a dedication, the composer never intended that it be published. Thus, it should only be judged as a student or abandoned effort.

    It is interesting to observe that Beethoven may have reused one of this work's themes in his 1790 Cantata on the Death of Joseph II, WoO 87, since a melody there appears to have roots in the sonatina's first movement. If that is so, then the sonatina would seem to predate the cantata, since the theme is more elaborate and more fully gestated than the related germ that appears in the sonatina.

    Parts/Movements

    1. [Ohne Tempoangabe]
    2. Allegretto

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2014 BIS BIS 2000
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94630
    2012 Stradivarius STV 33924
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94052
    2011 Cambria CD 11751185
    2010 Baby Einstein Company / Disney 105023
    2010 BIS 1672
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93525
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 453 733-2GCB8
    Cascade Records 2285
    Brilliant 93525/59