Violin Sonata No. 9 in A Major, Op. 47
In this masterclass, Miriam Fried helps student Anatol Toth approach Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” Sonata from more of a big picture angle. Though many of the musical figures are repeated throughout the work, she encourages him to analyze the underlying harmony and adjust the color or character to vary this material. She discusses how the performer should always be searching for differences in the music so that no two musical moments ever sound exactly the same, no matter how similar they look on the page.
Furthermore, Fried highlights the major arrival points in the music and shows how the pacing of the movement must be coordinated to allow maximum effect during those moments. As she puts it, it is not the individual notes that matter, but how they are constructed together; thus, the performer must always be intentional with his phrasing and expression to create a comprehensive and unified presentation of the piece.
Maintaining a strict sense of rhythm.
Varying the color, character, and dynamics along with the harmony.
Having a musical direction and shape at all times.
Adding variation in the performance.
Being aware of what you aim to express, and why.
Beethoven's Violin Sonata No. 9, composed in 1803, is one of the composer's longest and most challenging pieces for violin. It was initially written for up-and-coming violinist George Bridgetower, but after a falling out between the two musicians, Beethoven dedicated it to famous violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer instead. Though Kreutzer did not enjoy the piece and refused to perform it, the work is still ironically referred to as the "Kreutzer Sonata." Though generally accepted to be in the key of A major, Beethoven never assigned any key to the work, and some scholars believe it is actually in A minor. The first movement, Adagio sostenuto - Presto, begins with a slow introduction. It quickly transitions from major to minor and is known for its difficulty in both parts, even requiring the violin to play triple and quadruple stops. The second movement, a beautiful theme and variations, presents unexpected harmonies and rhythms. The piece concludes with a Presto, the only movement actually in the key of A major. The persistent rhythms of this tarantella drive the work to a lively finish.
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.
Professor of violin at New England Conservatory in Boston.
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.