So, the subject of today’s lecture is the sonata in B flat major opus 22 – a sonata that was a great favorite of Beethoven’s but is somewhat overlooked today. You may remember that this sonata came up all the way back in the second lecture of the first part of the course – the lecture entitled "The First Thirteen". The idea was that those first thirteen sonatas form a kind of a unit: that they share a number of broad characteristics, and therefore represent Beethoven’s first phase of sonata writing before he began experimenting with new ideas that took the genre in new and unexpected directions. I don’t want to overstate this, because it risks diminishing these early sonatas, which are very much distinct works, and brim with invention. But it is true that among them, the "Pathetique" is probably the only sonata that really acts as a challenge to the model that Beethoven himself established with opus 2. So, if those thirteen sonatas do indeed form a unit, then opus 22 represents a summation, or at least an ending, because it is the last of those thirteen. This is slightly confusing, because Op. 22 is called "Sonata no. 11"; however, I am factoring in the two sonatas op. 49, published later but written much earlier than opus 22, which dates from 1800. I’m glad we’re looking at opus 22 now, rather than all the way back then, because by now there is a whole lot of context to place it in. Among those first thirteen sonatas, we’ve already delved into five: op. 2 no. 1, op. 2 no. 3, op. 7, which is particularly relevant to this work, op. 10 no. 1, and op. 13, the aforementioned Pathetique. And, of course, we’ve also looked at many of the great middle and late period sonatas which were to follow. With all that context, it’ll be much easier to see the clean break that Beethoven made with the past after this sonata. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Beethoven was constantly experimenting, and therefore it’s reductive to divide his work into periods. His style was ALWAYS in flux. However, I stand by my original statement: after opus 22, there is a CLEAR break with the past, and the pace of his experimentation really accelerates. Even though the next sonatas follow closely on its heels – opus 26 was written within the year – opus 22 resembles its predecessors for more than it does them. So by his standards, at least, opus 22 is a bit of a retread. Whether it’s because of that or in spite of it, Beethoven REALLY liked it. Along with the Appassionata and op. 78, it’s one of the sonatas that he seemed to have a special fondness for. Now, those other two cases are very easy for me to understand: the Appassionata is both a formal marvel and a barnburner to end all barnburners; opus 78 is unlike most of his other sonatas in ways that make it particularly touching and human. Opus 22, by contrast, has few, if any, truly distinctive features, and generally covers territory that Beethoven had already thoroughly explored. I would go a step further: it's unique among Beethoven’s substantial sonatas – and with 4 movements and taking well over twenty minutes to play, it certainly is substantial-- in that it is unconcerned with breaking new ground or testing out new ideas. Therefore, to me, even though it is witty, beautiful, and absolutely full of vitality, it feels just so slightly impersonal. In a letter, Beethoven wrote that this sonata "hat sich gewaschem". It’s an archaic expression, and when I quoted it back in lecture two, I spent more time than I care to admit debating whether to translate it as "the bee’s knees" or "the cat’s pajamas". (And to make matters worse, I can’t remember which I chose!) But the LITERAL translation is "it has washed itself" which feels sort of fitting: this is a very clean piece. Every box has been ticked, every compositional problem solved without leaving behind a trace of dirt, grit or struggle. Grit and struggle are very much a part of Beethoven’s musical profile: it’s really at the heart of what draws us to him. But it may be that their absence is what he loved about this sonata – that he relished the ease and fluency with which it seems to have come to him. If I sound like I’m belittling this wonderful sonata, I really don’t mean to. It has boundless charm, and if it doesn’t win points for innovation, well, it doesn’t need to! There are many other metrics by which we can measure a piece’s quality. Nevertheless, since this course has focused to such a great degree on Beethoven’s innovations, in this case, I’ll need to take a slightly different tack. In fact, I’m going to take the opposite one, and point out the ways and the points in the work in which Beethoven refers back to earlier sonatas, tying a metaphorical bow around the period. In particular, I’m going to use the great sonata opus 7 as a reference, because they have so many broad similarities. Both are in four movements, each of which fills a similar function within the work; both have generous proportions; both, moment-to-moment, have strong, unambiguous characters. Remember, Opus 7 is nothing if not big and bold – he called it "grand sonata", and it clocks in at an unusually long 28 minutes. So it is interesting to observe the ways in which opus 22 seeks to match that boldness, and the ways in which it is content to be more modest, or at least more contained.