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Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas

Curtis Institute of Music via Coursera

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  • Provider Coursera
  • Subject Music
  • $ Cost Free Online Course (Audit)
  • Session In progress
  • Language English
  • Effort 1-3 hours a week
  • Start Date
  • Duration 12 weeks long

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Our relationship to Beethoven is a deep and paradoxical one. For many musicians, he represents a kind of holy grail: His music has an intensity, rigor, and profundity which keep us in its thrall, and it is perhaps unequalled in the interpretive, technical, and even spiritual challenges it poses to performers. At the same time, Beethoven’s music is casually familiar to millions of people who do not attend concerts or consider themselves musically inclined. Two hundred years after his death, he is everywhere in the culture, yet still represents its summit.

This course takes an inside-out look at the 32 piano sonatas from the point of view of a performer. Each lecture will focus on one sonata and an aspect of Beethoven’s music exemplified by it. (These might include: the relationship between Beethoven the pianist and Beethoven the composer; the critical role improvisation plays in his highly structured music; his mixing of extremely refined music with rougher elements; and the often surprising ways in which the events of his life influenced his compositional process and the character of the music he was writing.) The course will feature some analysis and historical background, but its perspective is that of a player, not a musicologist. Its main aim is to explore and demystify the work of the performer, even while embracing the eternal mystery of Beethoven’s music itself.

This season's Curtis courses are sponsored by Linda Richardson in loving memory of her husband, Dr. Paul Richardson.

The Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation supports Curtis's lifelong learning initiatives.

Taught by

Jonathan Biss

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Reviews for Coursera's Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas
4.5 Based on 15 reviews

  • 5 stars 47%
  • 4 stars 53%
  • 3 star 0%
  • 2 star 0%
  • 1 star 0%

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  • 1
Zeynep K
4.0 3 years ago
Zeynep is taking this course right now, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
This is a good course for classical music enthusiasts or for those who want to get more familiar with classical music. Mr. Biss is a great pianist and passionate about Beethoven. For a beginner, I'd say it's at medium difficulty due to the terms used during the lectures but fret not, it's rather fast to get a hold of those with a little research and they may even inspire you to look more into classical period or music theory.
2 people found
this review helpful
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Anonymous
4.0 5 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Excellent teacher. Not really for a beginner, though.
2 people found
this review helpful
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Joanne C
5.0 3 years ago
by Joanne completed this course, spending 8 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
I thoroughly enjoyed this class. However, it is not really for beginners (as i was). Jonathan Biss is an amazing musician! And, he was a good teacher, too. It was above my knowledge base and familiarity, but I learned a lot! And....I'm proud I completed the course with distinction.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Bruce K
4.0 3 years ago
by Bruce is taking this course right now.
Great introduction, probably do need a minimal musical background to make most of it. I do plan to finish it, as it is just at my not very high level of understanding.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Jos G
5.0 4 years ago
Jos completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
Excellent. If you get the chance, subscribe and you will hear and understand Ludwig van like never before. No need to read notes, just use your ears.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anonymous
5.0 5 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Prof. Biss is the authority on Beethoven. To put so much into such a short space of time. A very rewarding experience.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Mark Q
5.0 3 years ago
Mark completed this course.
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Morgan B
5.0 2 years ago
by Morgan dropped this course.
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Ava A
5.0 3 years ago
by Ava is taking this course right now.
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Alan S
4.0 3 years ago
by Alan completed this course.
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Maria V
4.0 4 years ago
Maria completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Vgmrmojo V
5.0 2 years ago
by Vgmrmojo completed this course.
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Rodrigo A
4.0 2 years ago
Rodrigo completed this course.
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Juan G
4.0 4 years ago
by Juan audited this course, spending 7 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
  • 1

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