EMIL GILELS plays Beethoven – Piano Sonata No. 21, in C major, Op. 53 (Waldstein)

 – Allegro con brio
10:52 – Introduzione. Adagio molto
14:41 – Rondo. Allegretto


The opening, driving motive

The Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53, also known as the Waldstein, is considered to be one of Beethoven‘s greatest piano sonatas, as well as one of the three particularly notable sonatas of his middle period (the other two being the Appassionata sonata, Op. 57, and Les Adieux, Op. 81a). The sonata was completed in the summer of 1804. The work has a scope that surpasses Beethoven’s previous piano sonatas, and is notably one of his most technically challenging compositions. The most difficult being the section involving a continuous trill plus melody line on the right, with scales on the left matching the trill speed. It is a key work early in his ‘Heroic’ decade (1803-1812) and set the stage for piano compositions in the grand manner both in Beethoven’s later work and all future composers.

The Waldstein receives its name from Beethoven’s dedication to Count Ferdinand Ernst Gabriel von Waldstein of Vienna, a patron as well as a close personal friend of Beethoven. Like the Archduke Trio (one of many pieces dedicated to Archduke Rudolph), this one bears Waldstein’s name though there are other works dedicated to him. This sonata is also known as ‘L’Aurora’ (The Dawn) in Italian, for the sonority of the opening chords of the third movement, which conjures an image of daybreak.                 (More)

Emil Grigoryevich Gilels (Ukrainian: Емі́ль Григо́рович Гі́лельс, Russian: Эми́ль Григо́рьевич Ги́лельс, Emiľ Grigoriević Gileľs; October 19, 1916 – October 14, 1985) was a Soviet pianist, widely considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. His last name is sometimes transliterated Hilels.[1][2]

Gilels was born in OdessaRussian Empire (now part of Ukraine) to a Jewish family with no direct musical background that nevertheless owned a piano.[3] He began studying the piano at the age of five[4] under Yakov Tkach, who was a student of the French pianists Raoul Pugno[5] and Alexander Villoing[4] Thus, through Tkach, Gilels had a pedagogical genealogy stretching back to Frédéric Chopin, via Pugno, and to Muzio Clementi, via Villoing. Tkach was a stern disciplinarian who emphasized scales and studies. Gilels later credited this strict training for establishing the foundation of his technique.[4]                          


Gilels made his public debut at the age of 12 in June 1929 with a well-received program of BeethovenScarlattiChopin, and Schumann.[4] In 1930, Gilels entered the Odessa Conservatorywhere he was coached by Berta Reingbald, whom Gilels credited as a formative influence. Also in Odessa Conservatory Gilels studied special harmony and polyphony with professor Mykola Vilinsky.[6]


After graduating from the Odessa Conservatory in 1935, he moved to Moscow where he studied under Heinrich Neuhaus until 1937. Neuhaus was a student of Aleksander Michałowski, who had studied with Carl Mikuli, Chopin’s student, assistant and editor. (More)

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