The Kreutzer Sonata is the name given to Beethoven’s Violin Sonata in A major Op. 47. It was composed in 1803. While it was ultimately dedicated to the famed violinist Rudolphe Kreutzer, it was premiered by the “mulatto” violinist George Bridgetower, to great success. Beethoven intended to dedicate the sonata to Bridgetower. Due to a falling out between Beethoven and Bridgetower, however, he revoked his dedication and instead bestowed it upon Kreutzer, who ironically is said never to have played it. The piece is written in 3 movements, and is a formidable challenge in the violin repertoire.
The Kreutzer Sonata is a demanding work for violin and piano, composed in three movements. The third movement, the 6/8 presto, was originally composed for the Sonata No. 1 in A major, but he decided to use it for a later work. The first two movements came later. The key center is unclear…it does not focus on one particular key, although there are hints of A minor, E minor, and E major. The first movement begins with a slow 4-bar introduction in the solo violin. A dialogue takes place between the slow violin and piano, and then they both burst forth in a fiery theme several bars later. The second movement is a theme and variations, and as mentioned earlier, the finale is a presto in 6/8.
In comparing this with Beethoven’s other violin sonatas, it is a rather lengthy work, almost functioning as a concerto because of the virtuosic writing and demand placed on the violin part. It has a richer tonal palette than the other violin sonatas, and is full of a kind of fiery character that the other sonatas lack.
I picked this piece because it is a work that I would someday like to play. The history of it is interesting, as it was originally composed for someone other than the dedicatee. I find it particularly interesting that its original dedicatee was a person of mixed race heritage in a time when this was unusual. The piece has a certain mysterious quality about it, which attracted other artists in other genres, for example Tolstoy’s story Kreutzer Sonata is based on this work. In my opinion, this piece ranks high along with Beethoven’s violin sonata in works for violin.
George Grove and Simon McVeigh. "Bridgetower, George Polgreen." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed April 7, 2014, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/03981.
Kreutzer Sonata." The Oxford Dictionary of Music, 2nd ed. rev.. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed April 7, 2014, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/opr/t237/e5780.