giulietta guicciardi

“Sonata quasi una fantasia” is the title Beethoven gave his fourteenth sonata. Unlike the formal Sonata form of the classical period, Fantasia commonly describes a free-form classical musical piece.

The title Moonlight Sonata actually didn’t come about until several years after Beethoven’s death. In 1836, German music critic, Ludwig Rellstab wrote that the sonata reminded him of the reflected moonlight off Lake Lucerne. Since then, Moonlight Sonata has remained the “official” unofficial title of the sonata.

The title page of the original edition focuses all of its attention not on the title of the piece or on the name of the composer, but on the name of the dedicatee, Juliet, in big bold letters right in the center of the page.  Giulietta Guicciardi came to Vienna at the age of 18 and immediately attracted attention for her striking beauty.  She soon became a pupil of Beethoven, whom he referred to as an “enchanting girl” and later wrote to his friend, “My life is once more a little more pleasant, I’m out and about again, among people – you can hardly believe how desolate, how sad my life has been since these last two years; this change was caused by a sweet, enchanting girl, who loves me and whom I love. After two years, I am again enjoying some moments of bliss, and it is the first time that – I feel that marriage could make me happy, but unfortunately she is not of my station – and now – I certainly could not marry now.”

In 1800-1802 Ludwig van Beethoven experienced devastating internal turmoil in trying to come to terms with his hearing loss. To the outside world, his life seemed to be ideal, with his success as a virtuoso pianist and as a successful, sought after composer in Vienna. He gradually began to withdraw from society and friends, however, as he felt it would be detrimental to his successful career as a musician if people found out he was going deaf. People felt he was being misanthropic, yet it was quite the opposite. Beethoven lived in a great deal of solitude and loneliness due to his impending and eventual complete deafness, which would eventually have a profound effect on his spiritual and creative growth as a composer and a musician. 

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