Aesthetically Warranted Emotions in the Theme of the Final Movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Op.10 No.3

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Biyikoğlu K. M., Altınbüken E.

Musicologist, vol.7, no.1, pp.26-48, 2023 (Scopus) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 7 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.33906/musicologist.1185395
  • Journal Name: Musicologist
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.26-48
  • Keywords: analysis, Music semiotics, Musical forces, Musical meaning, Performance, Virtual agency
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


In a video commentary, pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim (2016) discussed the dangers of verbal descriptions of music by presenting two seemingly contradictory explanations about the ‘meaning’ of the theme of the final movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Op.10/3 given by pianists Edwin Fischer and Claudio Arrau. We examined the tempo and dynamic fluctuations obtained from the studio recordings of this theme by Fischer in 1948 and 1954, and by Arrau in 1964 and 1985 by using the Sonic Visualiser software (Cannam et al., 2010), and interpreted these results by using Steve Larson’s (2012) theory of musical forces, and Robert Hatten’s (2018) theory of virtual agency in western music. According to our analyses, the differences in the performances of Fischer and Arrau can be metaphorically correlated with the different meanings these pianists attributed to Beethoven’s theme. We concluded that the seemingly contradictory verbal descriptions of these pianists indicate different aesthetically warranted emotions they aimed to communicate through their performances of Beethoven’s theme.