Ludwig van Beethoven wrote his 32 piano sonatas between 1795 and 1822. Although originally not intended to be a meaningful whole, as a set they comprise one of the most important collections of works in the history of music. Hans von Bülow even called them “The New Testament” of music (Johann Sebastian Bach´s The Well-Tempered Clavier being “The Old Testament”.
Beethoven’s piano sonatas came to be seen as the first cycle of major piano pieces suited to concert hall performance. Being suitable for both private and public performance, Beethoven’s sonatas form “a bridge between the worlds of the salon and the concert hall”.
Camille Saint-Saëns, in his debut public recital at the age of ten, offered to play as an encore any of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas from memory.
In a single concert cyclus, the whole 32 sonatas were first performed by Hans von Bülow; the first to make a complete recording was Artur Schnabel in 1927 (he was also the first since von Bülow to play the complete cycle in concert from memory). [source]
Glenn Gould – Piano
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