Theme from Piano Concerto No. 5, Op. 73 “Emperor” (Beethoven)

The lovely melody from the second movement of this famous piano concerto has never been so easy to play!

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Piano Concerto No. 5 in E♭ major, Op. 73, by Ludwig van Beethoven, popularly known as the Emperor Concerto, was his last completed piano concerto. It was written between 1809 and 1811 in Vienna, and was dedicated to Archduke Rudolf, Beethoven’s patron and pupil, who also gave the first performance of the piece on January 13, 1811. On February 12, 1812, Carl Czerny, another student of Beethoven’s, performed the piece for the first time in Vienna.

The programmatic title Emperor, much like his Sonata Op. 27, No.2, commonly known as Moonlight, was not Beethoven’s idea; he did not like when editors added programmatic titles to his works, but could not prevent them from doing so. Ludwig felt his works did not need such indications for the listener to understand what he wanted to express, and that programmatic titles were an indication of an inferior work that required those titles to engage the listener. The title Emperor was given by Johann Baptist Cramer, who published the first English version of the concerto.

This arrangement takes the famous theme from the second movement, Adagio un poco moto, transposes it up a half-step to C major and reduces it to the easy side of intermediate, but not quite early intermediate. (The hands move around the keyboard a bit more, and it is not as pattern-based.) Students will get experience playing softly and even more softly, and using the pedal to connect chords to keep the piece legato.

Key: C Major

Mood: peaceful and reverent

Pedagogy: pedal, piano and pianissimo dynamics


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