Monday, September 7, 2015

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 233: Listen to Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata

Ludwig van Beethoven
Several years ago, while reading an article about world famous musician Ludwig van Beethoven, I ran across a reference to one of his most famous pieces of music, the “Moonlight Sonata.” Like most people, I’d heard of this musical composition before, but I couldn’t honestly say that I’d listened to the entire thing from start to finish. For that reason, I added it to my “bucket list” a few years ago.

Many of you will remember from music appreciation class that a sonata is a musical composition for one (sometimes two) instrument(s) that consists of three or four sections (or movements) in different forms or keys. Beethoven wrote the “Moonlight Sonata," which is technically known as “Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor 'Quasi una fantasia,' Op. 27, No. 2,” in 1801. This famous sonata was composed for the piano and consists of three movements. Altogether, it's about 15 minutes long.

Many of you may be wondering why this sonata is called the “Moonlight Sonata,” and that’s something that I’d always wondered about too. Earlier this year, I ran across an explanation on one of my favorite Web sites, “The Writer’s Almanac.” According to that source, a German critic compared the sonata to the “effect of moonlight shining on Lake Lucerne," and that description proved so popular that this sonata has been known as the "Moonlight Sonata" ever since.

Thanks to YouTube, I listened to the “Moonlight Sonata" from start to finish for the first time yesterday (Sunday). Since, then I’ve listened to it several more times. In fact, I’m listening to it right now as I type this.

Like most folks who’ve probably listened to this sonata, I found the first movement familiar. I’d heard it before, but I just didn’t know what it was called. It’s right at six minutes long.

I wasn’t as familiar with the second and third movements. The second movement is a few seconds over two minutes long, and the third movement is five seconds short of being seven minutes long. The second and third movements are faster than the first movement and have a totally different tone altogether.

Having now listened to this famous piece of music from start to finish, I can now see why it’s so famous and well thought of. It’s a beautiful piece of music and somewhat spellbinding. I found myself listening with my eyes closed and trying to pick out every individual note. This gets harder once the piece progresses into the faster second and third movements.

Following note by note, I was impressed with the idea that Beethoven was obviously a genius. His God-given abilities allowed him to create works of art that people still enjoy today and that still pluck the emotional strings of people living hundreds of years after his death. Like a good movie, after listening to the “Moonlight Sonata" for the first time, I was left with the strong, overpowering desire to listen to it over and over again – which is what I did.

In the end, how many of you have ever listened to Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata from start to finish? What did you think about it? Let us know in the comments section below.

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