(MUSIC) OK, the opening has now officially been dispensed with – which is a good thing, as there’s plenty of extraordinary material still to come in this movement. In fact, the movement is basically an uninterrupted series of extraordinary events. Here is what immediately follows the one-phrase A section I just played: (MUSIC) What amazes me most about this is how instantly the tenderness of the opening disappears. Part of this has to do with the shift from E Major to E minor (MUSIC), but it’s also about the barrenness of the open octaves in the bass. This movement opened with rich, full chordal writing (MUSIC); when what were chords become octaves-- hollowed-out chords, in essence – a sonic starkness takes hold, which is exactly what happens here. (MUSIC) This really builds on the sense of dislocation from the rest of the piece that is this movement’s most salient feature, right from the opening. The first movement’s forward thrust left little or no room for questioning, for uncertainty, for vulnerability. Those qualities are everything in this movement. This B section is far longer than the one-sentence A, and in it, passages like the one I just played are set against this music, equally moving in yet another kind of way. (MUSIC) Back in the major mode, this is nonetheless far different from the philosophical-natured opening. The main feature of this music is yearning. Two of its main components, appogiaturas (MUSIC), and large leaps (MUSIC), these are practically musical shorthand for yearning – the appogiaturas in particular. This is already true in the world of baroque opera, and remains the case through the couldn’t-be-more-different music of the second Viennese school (Schoenberg, Webern, Berg), and even beyond. Why are these the musical building blocks of yearning? I couldn’t say, but they are, just like E flat is the classical era key of nobility. Music is a mysterious language. So, these two types of music, (MUSIC) and (MUSIC), they share the stage for quite some time, before finally we come back to E Major and to the opening material. (MUSIC) Unusually for Beethoven, the return of this A section is absolutely unchanged, identical, all the way through. Except that it is changed, simply on account of the power of the intervening events. Coming at the beginning of the movement, after all the C Major sound and fury of the first movement, the opening is very beautiful and somewhat foreign, exotic; coming after the tightly focused drama of this (MUSIC), and the longing of this (MUSIC), it now feels like a profoundly comforting homecoming. I’ll say it yet again: in music, context is king. The first time we heard it, the A section led to this. (MUSIC) The second time we hear it – unaltered, you’ll remember – it heads in a dramatically new direction. (MUSIC) It’s the same material as the opening, but appearing suddenly in fortissimo, it is meant to be a seismic-level shock. And, this being Beethoven, it's no coincidence that this movement’s one fortissimo passage, its one muscular moment, comes in C Major – (MUSIC) the key of the rest of the piece. The key, just like the muscularity, is a reference, and a tenuous link between the oasis that is this movement, and all that surrounds it. How does he find his way back from this C Major incursion? (MUSIC) In breathtaking, spectacular fashion, is how. That very spine-tingling modulation is one that Beethoven returned to again and again, as did future composers. In essence, it works like this: the keys involved are E Major (MUSIC), and its submediant, C Major (MUSIC). To get back to E Major, Beethoven takes a C bass (MUSIC), and drops it a half step to a B. (MUSIC), which is V of E Major (MUSIC). Now, if you’re not interested in the theory, you can forget all about those keys and numbers. The important thing is this: (MUSIC) This modulation is everywhere in Beethoven and the post-Beethoven world. One spectacular example is the “Emperor” Concerto, in E-flat (MUSIC), with a slow movement in the submediant (MUSIC). The movement comes to an end (MUSIC), except that the orchestra holds on to that C-flat, (MUSIC) until… (MUSIC). And just like that, we’re back. (MUSIC). That example became famous because it’s so dramatically stripped down, (MUSIC) and also because it links two movements, which is so unusual. But examples abound. One of my favorite Schubert songs, “Der Neugieriege”, is in B Major, (MUSIC) with a section in the submediant (MUSIC). The alarmingly beautiful return of B Major is prepared this way: (MUSIC) It’s nothing… and everything. Beetboven didn’t invent this modulation, but his gift for exploiting it expanded music’s expressive vocabulary. However much detail I may have seemed to go into here, I swear I’ve actually been quite selective – I could have picked almost any set of passages in this movement and found that much to unpack. That speaks to how deep this music cuts, opus 2 or not. It may not be a hotbed of formal innovation, but every inch of the personality that eventually produced pieces like opus 101 and opus 109 is fully on display in this movement.