Download Full Text (802 KB)
Molly Secord, MUS 303: Music History 2
Faculty Mentor: Professor Carolyn Guzski, Music
My project explores the opening movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s (1770-1827) Piano Sonata in C-sharp minor, op. 27, no. 2 (1801), more famously known as his “Moonlight” Sonata. The research focus is an exploration of interpretative differences between “absolute” and “program” music, reinforced by my own primary score analysis. My discussion compares the rhythmic ostinato used by Beethoven with Mozart’s strikingly similar figure in “Ah! Soccorso” (Act I) from the opera Don Giovanni (1787). Beethoven named his work “Sonata quasi una Fantasia,” which translates to “Sonata in a manner of a fantasy.” That piece of information leads us to believe that the pathbreaking composer was referring to the freedom of form beginning to emerge in absolute musical genres at the inception of the Romantic era. I also use historical and theoretical sources to further my project goal: contributing to an understanding of the possibilities of absolute music, and Beethoven’s transformative power, at the end of the Classical era through his most influential and frequently performed piano work.
Arts and Humanities
Secord, Molly, "Program v. Absolute: Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata" (2020). Arts. 22nd Annual Student Research and Creativity Conference. SUNY Buffalo State.