Beethoven’s Piano Concerto #1 (Opus 15)

by • October 27, 2010 • MusicComments (0)1926

Ludwig van Beethoven‘s Piano Concerto #1 in C major, opus 15, was written between 1796-1797. The first performance was in Prague in 1798, with Beethoven himself playing the piano.  Although this was Beethoven’s first piano concerto to be published, it was, in fact, his third attempt at the genre, following an unpublished piano concerto in E-flat major (not to be confused with Beethoven’s more famous “Emperor” concerto, also in E-flat) and the Piano Concerto #2 (1801), published after Piano Concerto #1 but composed almost ten years earlier.

The third movement is a seven-part rondo (A.B.A.C.A.B.A), a traditional third-movement form in classical concerti. The piano states the main theme, which is then repeated by the orchestra. The two B sections (subordinate themes) are in G major and C major respectively. The middle section is in A minor.  Two short cadenzas are indicated by Beethoven in this movement, one just before the final return to the main theme, and a short eingang immediately before the end of the movement, which finishes with a striking dynamic contrast.  The piano plays a melody quietly, but the orchestra then ends the movement forcefully.  The movement typically lasts around 8-9 minutes.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVuy58-PYCc[/youtube]

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And here’s Alfred Brendel’s go at it:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBJ4SGnDbtI[/youtube]

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