December 16th-December 22nd: Moonlight Sonata


L. Beethoven, “Moonlight” Sonata, Op. 27 no. 2 (3rd movement)

Beethoven’s 14th piano sonata, nicknamed “Moonlight” sonata is one of his most well known. The first and most famous movement was featured in a previous listening activity, Moonlight Mood. This week, we will be listening to the 3rd movement which is the most technically demanding of all movements.

“Of the final movement, Charles Rosen has written "it is the most unbridled in its representation of emotion. Even today, two hundred years later, its ferocity is astonishing."

Beethoven's heavy use of sforzando notes, together with just a few strategically located fortissimo passages, creates the sense of a very powerful sound in spite of the predominance of piano markings throughout.”


  1. What does “sf” stand for and what does it mean?

  2. The tempo marking gives us much insight as to how a piece should be performed and what feeling we should be practicing to achieve. It is found at the beginning of a piece in bold letters on the top left side. What is the tempo marking here and what does it mean?

Bonus Questions - The first 3 students to successfully answer all questions and bonus questions win a prize!

There are various figures/patterns utilized throughout this piece and many other classical compositions. While it is much faster and more difficult here, it is present in music from the early levels of study in elementary sonatinas and scale books. You have likely played these figures before!

  1. What is the left hand figure found at 1:30-1:45 on the first video? You can view the same pattern at 1:25-1:35 on the second video.

  2. What is right hand figure played in the opening of this piece until 16 seconds? This is something you can find in your scale book.

  3. Harmonic analysis, or learning the chords/harmony in the music we play is very important. It can simplify learning, aid memory, and offer a deeper understanding of the composition’s structure. While there are an incredible amount of notes, the music is actually only made up of 4 different chords up to the 7th bar. What are the first 4 chords found in this piece?

Hint: Use the score of the music on the second video and remember the key signature!