Piano Sonata No. 26 in E-flat major, Op. 81a, “Les Adieux”
Ludwig van Beethoven
The 32 piano sonatas by Beethoven, which were described perceptively by pianist and conductor Hans von Bülow as the “New Testament” of keyboard literature (Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier being the “Old Testament”), provide a universe of pianistic expression, from refined Classical essays in traditional sonata form to exalted demonstrations of transfigured seraphic ecstasy.
The 26th of those sonatas dates from 1810, thus coming at the conclusion of his so-called “middle,” or “heroic,” period. The composer intended it for publication with German-language subtitles (Das Lebewohl, Abwesenheit, and Das Wiedersehen) for its three movements (distilling the feelings surrounding the farewell, absence, and return of a much-loved friend), and dedicated it to his patron Archduke Rudolph.
-Dennis Bade served the Los Angeles Philharmonic for nearly a quarter century as Associate Director and Director of Publications.