Beethoven – The Complete (32) Piano Sonatas + Presentation (reference recording : Wilhelm Backhaus)


The Beethoven Sonatas are one of the most colossal monuments in the history of music. These sonatas cover a period of almost thirty years, so Beethoven was entirely at the keyboard. With the demands he made on instrument makers, he directly influenced the evolution of instruments and integrated technological advances into the content of his own music. For example, Beethoven specified for op.101 (no.28) that it was written “für das Hammerklavier”, i.e. for the hammer keyboard (and not for the harpsichord or clavichord) and in the gigantic op.106 (no.29 – more than forty minutes), “Hammerklavier” was used as the title. The first sonatas are above all brilliant in their formidable virtuosity (Beethoven composed them for his own abilities) and respect well the formal structure established by Haydn (notably the organization in four movements). From these pages to the final monuments, the journey was made in progressive stages until the six great sonatas of his last creative period shattered the classical framework and opened the doors to Romanticism. Through the form and metaphysical power of his last great monuments, Beethoven unleashed radical upheavals that his successors took decades to assimilate. Wilhelm Backhaus’ integral, the fastest and most severe of all, is also the most homogeneous, and probably the most perfect. Powerful expression, rigid articulation, precise and always balanced, Backhaus culminates in the “Hammerklavier”, opus 101, opus 110; the “Pathétique”, the “Appassionata” and even a hyper-austere “Claire de lune” give all the measure of such a pianistic battle. The sound is massive, ample, uncompromising, just like the interpretation. The cycle recorded by Backhaus is a real treasure to be discovered or deepened for lovers of Beethoven’s music! A friend says that it is a working version, which means that it is perfect to deepen the understanding of the sonatas. Good listening 🙂 END

93 thoughts on “Beethoven – The Complete (32) Piano Sonatas + Presentation (reference recording : Wilhelm Backhaus)

  1. Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827) : The 32 Piano Sonatas
    Click to activate the English subtitles for the presentation (00:00–02:16)
    Discover Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas with Professor FABRE (CMRR 2.0)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHtbNSfqVPU&list=PL3UZpQL9LIxNoH7iFLziFtIWA66D11QB2
    Piano Sonata #1 In F Minor, Op. 2/1 – 1. Allegro (00:00)
    Piano Sonata #1 In F Minor, Op. 2/1 – 2. Adagio (03:00)
    Piano Sonata #1 In F Minor, Op. 2/1 – 3. Menuetto: Allegretto (06:58)
    Piano Sonata #1 In F Minor, Op. 2/1 – 4. Prestissimo (09:23)

    Piano Sonata #2 In A, Op. 2/2 – 1. Allegro Vivace (13:14)
    Piano Sonata #2 In A, Op. 2/2 – 2. Largo Appassionato (18:07)
    Piano Sonata #2 In A, Op. 2/2 – 3. Scherzo: Allegretto (23:07)
    Piano Sonata #2 In A, Op. 2/2 – 4. Rondo: Grazioso (25:54)

    Piano Sonata #3 In C, Op. 2/3 – 1. Allegro Con Brio (32:13)
    Piano Sonata #3 In C, Op. 2/3 – 2. Adagio (39:35)
    Piano Sonata #3 In C, Op. 2/3 – 3. Scherzo: Allegro (45:32)
    Piano Sonata #3 In C, Op. 2/3 – 4. Allegro Assai (48:37)

    Piano Sonata #4 In E Flat, Op. 7 – 1. Allegro Molto E Con Brio (53:56)
    Piano Sonata #4 In E Flat, Op. 7 – 2. Largo Con Gran Espressione (1:00:15)
    Piano Sonata #4 In E Flat, Op. 7 – 3. Allegro (1:06:27)
    Piano Sonata #4 In E Flat, Op. 7 – 4. Rondo: Poco Allegretto E Grazioso (1:10:15)

    Piano Sonata #5 In C Minor, Op. 10/1 – 1. Allegro Molto E Con Brio (1:16:50)
    Piano Sonata #5 In C Minor, Op. 10/1 – 2. Adagio Molto (1:20:55)
    Piano Sonata #5 In C Minor, Op. 10/1 – 3. Finale: Prestissimo (1:26:47)

    Piano Sonata #6 In F, Op. 10/2 – 1. Allegro (1:30:07)
    Piano Sonata #6 In F, Op. 10/2 – 2. Allegretto (1:34:31)
    Piano Sonata #6 In F, Op. 10/2 – 3. Presto (1:37:59)

    Piano Sonata #7 In D, Op. 10/3 – 1. Presto (1:40:23)
    Piano Sonata #7 In D, Op. 10/3 – 2. Largo E Mesto (1:45:14)
    Piano Sonata #7 In D, Op. 10/3 – 3. Menuetto: Allegro (1:51:51)
    Piano Sonata #7 In D, Op. 10/3 – 4. Rondo: Allegro (1:54:26)

    Piano Sonata #8 In C Minor, Op. 13, "Pathétique"
    1. Grave – Allegro Di Molto E Con Brio (1:58:21) ; 2. Adagio Cantabile (2:04:34)
    3. Rondo: Allegro (2:09:21)

    Piano Sonata #9 in E major, Op. 14/1 : I. Allegro (2:13:52)
    Piano Sonata #9 In E major, Op. 14/1 : II. Allegretto (2:18:20)
    Piano Sonata #9 in E major, Op. 14/1 : III. Rondo – Allegro commodo (2:21:32)

    Piano Sonata #10 in G major, Op. 14/2 : I. Allegro (2:25:06)
    Piano Sonata #10 In G major, Op. 14/2 : II. Andante (2:30:00)
    Piano Sonata #10 in G major, Op. 14/2 : III. Scherzo – Allegro assai (2:35:31)

    Piano Sonata #11 in B flat major, Op. 22 "Grande Sonate"
    I. Allegro con brio (2:38:56) ; II. Adagio Con Molta Espressione (2:44:34)
    III. Minuetto (2:51:46) ; IV. Rondo – Allegretto (2:54:54)

    Piano Sonata #12 In A Flat, Op. 26, "Funeral March"
    1. Andante Con Variazioni (3:00:25) ; 2. Scherzo: Allegro Molto (3:07:32)
    3. Marcia Funebre Sulla Morte D'Un Eroe (3:10:14) ; 4. Allegro (3:15:30)

    Piano Sonata #13 In E Flat, Op.27/1, "Sonata Quasi Una Fantasia"
    1. Andante, Allegro, Andante (3:18:22) ; 2. Allegro Molte E Vivace (3:23:11)
    3. Adagio Con Espressione (3:25:20) ; 4. Allegro Vivace (3:27:31)

    Piano Sonata #14 In C Sharp Minor, Op. 27/2, "Moonlight"
    1. Adagio Sostenuto (3:32:56) ; 2. Allegretto (3:38:36)
    3. Presto Agitato (3:40:56)

    Piano Sonata #15 In D, Op. 28, "Pastoral" – 1. Allegro (3:48:24)
    Piano Sonata #15 In D, Op. 28, "Pastoral" – 2. Andante (3:55:08)
    Piano Sonata #15 In D, Op. 28, "Pastoral" – 3. Scherzo: Allegro Vivace (4:01:36)
    Piano Sonata #15 In D, Op. 28, "Pastoral" – 4. Rondo: Allegro Ma Non Troppo (4:03:31)

    Piano Sonata #16 In G, Op. 31/1 – 1. Allegro Vivace (4:07:38)
    Piano Sonata #16 In G, Op. 31/1 – 2. Adagio Grazioso (4:12:35)
    Piano Sonata #16 In G, Op. 31/1 – 3. Rondo: Allegretto, Adagio, Presto (4:20:57)

    Piano Sonata #17 In D Minor, Op. 31/2, "Tempest" – 1. Largo, Allegro (4:27:13)
    Piano Sonata #17 In D Minor, Op. 31/2, "Tempest" – 2. Adagio (4:35:41)
    Piano Sonata #17 In D Minor, Op. 31/2, "Tempest" – 3. Allegretto (4:41:59)

    Piano Sonata #18 In E Flat, Op. 31/3, "The Hunt"
    1. Allegro (4:48:28) ; 2. Scherzo: Allegretto Vivace (4:54:44)
    3. Menuetto: Moderato Grazioso (4:58:31) ; 4. Presto Con Fuoco (5:02:38)

    Piano Sonata #19 In G Minor, Op. 49/1 – 1. Andante (5:07:30)
    Piano Sonata #19 In G Minor, Op. 49/1 – 2. Rondo: Allegro (5:10:55)

    Piano Sonata #20 In G, Op. 49/2 – 1. Allegro, Ma Non Troppo (5:14:21)
    Piano Sonata #20 In G, Op. 49/2 – 2. Tempo Di Menuetto (5:16:42)

    Piano Sonata #21 In C, Op. 53, "Waldstein"
    1. Allegro Con Brio (5:19:58) ; 2. Introduzione: Adagio Molto (5:28:48)
    3. Rondo: Allegretto Moderato, Prestissimo (5:32:00)

    Piano Sonata #22 In F, Op. 54 – 1. In Tempo Di Menuetto (5:41:44)
    Piano Sonata #22 In F, Op. 54 – 2. Allegretto, Piu Allegro (5:46:58)

    Piano Sonata #23 In F Minor, Op. 57, "Appassionata"
    1. Allegro Assai (5:52:15) ; 2. Andante Con Moto (6:01:48)
    3. Allegro Ma Non Troppo (6:07:49)

    Piano Sonata #24 In F Sharp Major, Op. 78 "For Therese"
    1. Adagio Cantabile-Allegro Ma Non Troppo (6:13:08)
    2. Allegro Vivace (6:19:52)

    Piano Sonata #25 In G Major, Op. 79 1. Presto Alla Tedesca (6:23:08)
    Piano Sonata #25 In G Major, Op. 79 2. Andante (6:27:24)
    Piano Sonata #25 In G Major, Op. 79 3. Vivace (6:30:19)

    Piano Sonata #26 In E Flat Major, Op. 81a "Les Adieux"
    1. Das Lebewohl – Adagio-Allegro (6:32:12)
    2. Abwesenheit – Andante Espressivo (6:39:07)
    3. Das Wiedersehn – Vivacissimamente (6:42:14)

    Piano Sonata #27 In E Minor, Op. 90
    1. Mit Lebhaftigenkeit Und Durchaus Mit Empfindung Und Ausdruck (6:48:23)
    2. Nicht Zu Geschwind Und Sehr Singbar Vorgetragen (6:53:23)

    Piano Sonata #28 In A Major, Op.101
    1. Allegretto, ma non troppo – Etwas lebhaft und mit der innigsten Empfindung (7:00:52)
    2. Vivace alla marcia – Lebhaft. Marschmassig (7:04:07)
    3. Adagio ma non troppo, con alla affeto – Langsam und sehnsuchtsvoll (7:10:14)
    4. Tempo del primo pezzo.. Allegro risoluto… (7:12:01)

    Piano Sonata #29 In B Flat Major, Op.106 « Hammerklavier »
    1. Allegro (7:19:54) ; 2. Scherzo – Assai vivace (7:31:35)
    3. Adagio sostenuto, Appassionato e con molto sentimento (7:34:14)
    4. Largo – Allegro risoluto (7:50:45)

    Piano Sonata #30 In E, Op. 109 – 1. Vivace Ma Non Troppo, Adagio Espressivo (8:01:47)
    Piano Sonata #30 In E, Op. 109 – 2. Prestissimo (8:04:44)
    Piano Sonata #30 In E, Op. 109 – 3. Gesangvoll, Mit Innigster Empfindung (8:07:02)

    Piano Sonata #31 In A Flat, Op. 110 – 1. Moderato Cantabile, Molto Espressivo (8:19:31)
    Piano Sonata #31 In A Flat, Op. 110 – 2. Allegro Molto (8:24:53)
    Piano Sonata #31 In A Flat, Op. 110 – 3. Adagio Ma Non Troppo (8:26:58)
    Piano Sonata #31 In A Flat, Op. 110 – 4. Fuga: Allegro Ma Non Troppo (8:29:49)

    Piano Sonata #32 In C Minor, Op. 111
    1. Maestoso, Allegro Con Brio Appassionato (8:36:01)
    2. Arietta: Adagio Molto Semplice E Cantabile (8:44:17)

    Piano : Wilhelm Backhaus
    Recorded in 1958-59-61-63-66-68-69 except the Mono recording « Hammerklavier » in 1952

    Beethoven : Intégrale des Sonates pour Piano par Wilhelm Backhaus
    Les Sonates de Beethoven constituent l'un des plus colossaux monuments de toute l'histoire de la musique. Ces sonates couvrent une période de près de trente ans, Beethoven était donc tout entier dans son clavier. Avec les demandes qu'il adressa aux facteurs, il influa directement sur l'évolution des instruments et intégra les avancées technologique au contenu de sa propre musique. Par exemple, Beethoven spécifia pour l'op.101 (n°28) qu'elle était écrite "für das Hammerklavier", c'est-à-dire pour le clavier à marteaux (et non pour le clavecin ou le clavicorde) et dans le gigantesque op.106 (n°29 – plus de quarante minutes), "Hammerklavier" servit carrément de titre.

    Les premières sonates brillent avant tout par une virtuosité redoutable (Beethoven les composa pour ses propres capacités) et respectent bien la structure formelle établie par Haydn (notamment l'organisation en quatre mouvements). De ces pages aux monuments ultimes, le trajet s'effectua selon des étapes progressives jusqu'à ce que les six grandes sonates de sa dernière période créatrice fassent voler en éclats le cadre classique et ouvrent les portes du romantisme. Par la forme et la puissance métaphysique de ses derniers grands monuments, Beethoven déclencha des bouleversements radicaux que ses successeurs mirent des décennies à assimiler.

    L'intégrale de Wilhelm Backhaus, la plus rapide et la plus sévère de toutes est aussi la plus homogène, et sans doute la plus parfaite. Puissance d'expression, articulation rigide, précise et toujours équilibrée, Backhaus culmine dans la "Hammerklavier", l'opus 101, l'opus 110 ; la "Pathétique", l"Appassionata" et même une hyper-austère "Claire de lune" donnent toute la mesure d'un tel combat pianistique. Le son est massif, ample, sans concession, tout comme l'interprétation.

    Le cycle enregistré par Backhaus est un véritable trésor à découvrir ou à approfondir pour les amoureux de la musique de Beethoven ! Un ami précise que c’est une version de travail, c’est-à-dire qu’elle est parfaite pour approfondir la compréhension des sonates.

    Ludwig Van Beethoven PLAYLIST (reference recordings)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3eg6KhIzfY&list=PL3UZpQL9LIxOhkdci2M8WKMSVaf9WiF8x&index=4&t=1540s

    Another cycle rarely played but magnificent : Mendelssohn – The Piano Works / Songs without Words (reference recording) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZJLAAspeaU&list=PL3UZpQL9LIxNEOECwK4VjfNazYgWVbApx&index=4

  2. Thanks so much for posting this magnificent treasure!  Is there any chance you might be able to locate Backhaus's earlier mono set?  There are claims that it is superior in most of the sonatas to the stereo set, but I've never been able to make any systematic comparison.

  3. This particular recording is just as good as any that have ever been recorded, and in some instances, maybe even better…. This is just one of the few reasons why I can appreciate this technology…. That it seems as though it may as well have been recorded last week…THANK YOU!!….

  4. this is really great but the sound quality and type of piano seem to vary considerably between sonatas…..such as opus 13

  5. Backhaus really knew the spirit and the content of Beethoven sonatas !!! as well as Wilhelm Kemff !!! Thanks for the video

  6. Moonligth sonata 1st mvt: First time I enjoyed his playing! Sorry, all of you fans, I find his Brahms very dry and cold…

  7. RIchter and Arrau more often take my breath away but these performances seem almost as Beethoven himself might have played them. He lets the music speak for itself.

  8. eis um pianista apolineo e clássico, admirável deveras,sobretudo pelas suas leituras das primeiras sonatas de Beethoven.

  9. For me no better complete set of Beethoven's sonatas exists than this set of Backhaus. While other great pianists tends to let one focus not just on the music, but also on their playing, Backhaus makes you forget about who is is playing and just focus on Beethoven's brilliant sonatas. For the same reason I also prefer Backhaus' recordings of the Beethoven concertos with Schmidt-Isserstedt over any other recording.

  10. Bon apparemment comme vous êtes Français, j'aurais dû écrire ce commentaire dans votre langue natale.

    Donc si dans votre série de " recording of the century " ne se figure pas Paul Badura Skoda, je vous traquerais personnellement.

    Blague à part il était le successeur de Backhaus et possède le même instrument ( le ring) que celui ci. Donc pour votre chaîne une cohérence idéal, sauf si vous planifiez de partager son intégral où il joue sûr instrument d'époque lol.

    Your " recording of the century " better be Paul Badura Skoda, or I'll hunt you down personally.

    Jokes aside, he played the same piano of Backhaus. So I think it would be a great continuation, unless you have his set on a period instrument. 😛

  11. After listening to several pianists play these sonatas, I really enjoy this interpretation the most. Good thing I didn't follow the advice on Amazon!

  12. Thank you very much. This is great "Classic Beethoven" as I remember from the 1960's. At that time there were indeed many critics who considered the Backhaus Beethoven Sonatas as a definitive version. And indeed as mentioned elsewhere in these comments, there are certain reviewers who over the have negatively impacted the public perception of Backhaus. I personally love the Barenboim interpretations but for me the Backhaus interpretations are just as great. There is no such thing as "The Best">

  13. Your channel is professionally orgernized, I really enjoy it, and I play music from your channel everyday for my kids (2 and 3 year old), as background music for them when they play. Someday they will appreciate the music too. Thank you for uploading all the beautiful pieces.

  14. magnifique pas une ride et une énergiepleine de fraicheur une de mes versions favorites avec Richter et gulda.

  15. вершина пианистической музыки недаром мой любимец глен гульд даже и не пытался это играть на такое кладут жизнь

  16. この力強く燃え盛る炎の様な演奏!バックハウスの魅力が余すところ無く満喫出来ました。鳥肌がたちました。。

  17. Всё звучит здорово, его исполнение достает до сердца, Wilhelm Backaus грандиозный пианист. Спасибо большое

  18. Thanks for uploading Backhaus. His playing achieves the hardest feat of all for the interpreter. He let's Beethoven do the talking.

  19. Backhaus had a rough and ready style that really suits well the gruffness we so often encounter in Beethoven, which makes his one of the top interpreters of that master. And of course, his impeccable technique. Thank you for this excellent upload! Liked and subscribed.

  20. so lifeless and flat. how can people think this is good? it doesn't even feel viennese. 3rd and 4th part of first sonata much better than the first two.

  21. IMPOSIBLE DE DIMENSIONAR A UN GENIO COMO BEETHOVEN, GENIO EN TODA LA AMPLITUD HUMANA, DE BEETHOVEN YA NO SE PUEDE HABLAR MAS, ! SOLO ESCUCHARLO CON EL CORAZON ABIERTO !!! , DEL INTERPRETE NO ME ANIMO A. COMPARARLO NI CALIFICARLO,. PERO SOLO CON ACOMETER LA GRAN EMPRESA DE TOCAR LAS 32 SONATAS DEL GRAN MAESTRO DENOTA QUE ES UN TITAN DEL PIANO, GRACIAS PORDIFUNDIR ESTA MARAVILLA,. RICARDO DESDE ARGENTINA

  22. SOLO UN GENIO COMO BEETHOVEN PUDO HABER CONSTRUIDO ESTA OBRA MONUMENTAL Y BRILLANTE, NO HAY PALABRAS PARA DESCRIBIRLO, SOLO QUEDA ESCUCHAR Y LLENAR EL ESPIRITU DE ESTA COLOSAL BELLEZA. EN CUANTO AL INTERPRETE NO TENGO EL CONOCIMIENTO PARA COMPARARLO CON OTROS GRANDES PIANISTAS, PERO EL SOLO HECHO DE ABORDAR SEMEJANTE OBRA YA LO CONVIERTE EN UN TITAN DE LA MUSICA- MUCHAS GRACIAS POR SU DIFUSION – -RICARDO GALLARDO DESDE LANÚS, PROVINCIA DE BUENOS AIRES, REPUBLICA ARGENTINA

  23. This must be be the remastered version. They could not possibly make recordings like this in the 1950s and '60s.

  24. 9시간이나 되는 Piano Sonatas 全曲을 한 묶음으로 해주시느라 수고가 대단한데 번호와 악장까지 표시해 주셨으면 얼마나 좋아겠습니까? (화면에 표시해 주시면….)

  25. Backhaus's playing sounds to me like he's telling how to play: "here is thema, here more cantabile, take a breath here" etc. Sounds like old, VERY experienced professor teaching a student, and explaining Beethoven step-by-step. Not a single, even shortest note here is underestimated. If you didn't listen – start now, if you did – listen again, like i do 🙂

  26. Dang, Backhaus plays the op 10 no 3 as fast as he can and that gives it a loooot of rubato since some parts are so hard

  27. La migliore interpretazione che io abbia ascoltata, essendo un semplice melomane appassionato di Beethoven e non un competente critico musicale.

  28. ベートーヴェン ピアノソナタ全集 ウィルヘルム・バックハウス
    ピアノ演奏 大 賛 美

    バックハウスは、鍵盤の獅子王と謂われ、ピアノ奏者の、憧れの的として、一世を風靡したのであります。又、希代のベートーヴェン弾きとして有名であります。楽聖という、言葉がありますが、ピアノの「楽聖」と言っても、間違いではありません。このベートーヴェンピアノ全集は、人類の宝でしょう。唯々、偏に聴く事が重要であります。

    擱 筆

  29. C. Arrau, S. Richter, A. Schiff and W. Backhaus keep all times the perfect tempo. OMG how sublime is Backhaus here. It's impossible stop listening since the first of the 32.

  30. Note: according with Andras Schiff the first movement of "Hammerklavier Sonata" should be much more faster than this here recorded. Some like as the Yuja Wang version also here in YouTube.

  31. ARRAU , ARRAU did same in 11 hours not 8. why? bec the maestro was not
    nervous and jittery with his masterworks. there is a pace a tempo (beside
    the 18th Century metronome) beethoven is FEELING, EMOTIONAL, sometimes
    IMPETUOUS music. and must be rendered in tone color flavor it was penned

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