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Ludwig van Beethoven, Drei Sonaten für Klavier (Es-Dur, f-Moll, D-Dur) WoO 47, Abschrift

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, NE 118

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Piano sonatas for the Elector

Generally people always speak of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas, meaning those with opus numbers. It is less well-known that there are four piano sonatas (WoO 47 and 51) amongst the works without opus numbers (WoO). Three of them are the so-called Elector sonatas. Here you can see a copy of WoO 47 which was made at the end of the eighteenth century. The copy follows the printed edition by Bossler in Speyer from 1783. The sonatas are dedicated to the Cologne Elector, Maximilian Friedrich, and were completed by Beethoven at the age of eleven, as can be seen on the title page (it must be noted that Beethoven's family said he was born in 1772, thus considering him to be two years younger than he really was). The works were composed at a time when the Elector's orchestra was flourishing. Beethoven was well acquainted with the orchestra as two members of his family were court musicians (his father and grandfather). In addition from 1782 onwards Beethoven assisted his teacher Christian Gottlob Neefe as organist at St. Remigius. The style of the sonatas was influenced by what Beethoven heard at court (and at home): the so-called Mannheim School. (J.R.)

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