Violin Sonata No.4 in A Minor, Op.23
Violin Sonata No.4 in A Minor, Op.23
Ludwig van Beethoven
In this masterclass, professor Miriam Fried and student Alcide Menetrier delve into dynamics, technical aspects of the violin, rhythm, expression, and articulation.
Produced by the Saline royale Academy in October, 2021 at Arc-et-Senans.
Professor Miriam Fried helps her student, Alcide Menetrier navigate this violin sonata, first by explaining that the piece is divided in three parts : the first part is for the violin and the right hand, the second part is the piano with the right hand, and the third part is the left hand of the piano. These three parts, she adds, are forever changing and so a musician’s role is never constant. As the sound changes, ones attention needs to constantly be shifting as well. This can only be accomplished via anticipation.
In addition to addressing alternating roles between the solo and accompaniment, Fried discusses Beethoven’s use of dynamics, finishing phrases with the appropriate amount of energy — especially in this dramatic and active oeuvre, anticipating one’s bowing, and harmonic changes — among many other crucial topics.
Throughout his entire working career, Ludwig van Beethoven composed ten violin sonatas, one of the most prominent ones being the Violin Sonata No.4. Written between 1797-1803 when he was in his early 30s and dedicated to Count Moritz von Fries, this sonata was a means for Beethoven to express more intensity and passion.
This piece has three sections: Presto, Andante scherzoso, più allegretto, and Allegro molto. When you first listen to this piece of work, you immediately feel the dramatic and fierce opening, which continues to develop with remarkable and rich movements. The second part of the sonata is even more surprising as it combines both slow scherzo and faster sections. The final part of the sonata has rather aggressive and assertive energy, allowing the listeners to feel the entire force of the sonata. The entire sonata has a duration of around 19 minutes.
Listening is partially about anticipating what the other person is going to do.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this violin masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Miriam Fried’s feedback and comments.
Miriam Fried has played with virtually every major orchestra in the United States and Europe and has been a frequent guest with the principal orchestras of Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, as well as with the Israel Philharmonic, the London Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic, and the Vienna Symphony.
In recent seasons, Ms. Fried’s schedule has included orchestral engagements with such prestigious ensembles as the Boston Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Orchestre de Paris, the Czech Philharmonic, and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. In 1993, she premiered a violin concerto written for her by Donald Erb with the Grand Rapids Symphony, and recorded the work for Koss. Ms. Fried’s highly praised New York recitals of the complete Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin were the culmination of three years of international performances.
She was the first violinist of the Mendelssohn String Quartet for ten years and collaborates regularly with her son, pianist Jonathan Biss. Currently, Miriam Fried is a professor at New England Conservatory and is invited to give masterclasses throughout the world. Since 1994 she has been program Director of the Ravinia Steans Music Institute, one of the country’s leading summer programs for young musicians.
Born in Bonn, Germany in 1770, Ludwig van Beethoven is one of the most mainstream references of Classicism — a pianist, composer, and an unequivocal genius. Descending from a long line of musicians, Beethoven studied music from an early age, beginning with the piano, clarinet, and the organ. At the ripe age of 11-years-old, Beethoven received his first job as a court organist, replacing his own teacher for a period of time. A veritable young prodigy, Beethoven was publicly compared to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and a few years later, the young musician traveled to Vienna to briefly study under the tutelage of Mozart himself. In his late 20s, Beethoven noticed difficulties with his hearing and by his mid 40s, he was completely deaf and unable to vocally communicate. Despite this misfortune, he remarkably continued to compose music. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 was written after he had entirely lost his hearing. While his early musical career heavily reflected the Viennese Classical tradition inherited by the likes of Mozart and Haydn, Beethoven achieved a unique revolutionary identity by the end of his career. Deceased in 1827, his wake was a public event that gathered around 10,000 people. Despite his passing, Beethoven’s legacy lives on. His works anticipated many of the features that would characterize music in the romantic era and even that of the 20th century.