Beethoven Bagatelles November 2017

The Bagatelle

A bagatelle is a short instrumental piece, a trifle, often written for piano. Beethoven composed three collections of bagatelles, Op. 33, 119, and 126. These smaller works of Op. 126 were the last set of piano pieces written by Beethoven and were dedicated to his brother, Johann van Beethoven. In a letter written to his publisher, Beethoven disclosed his thoughts that these final bagatelles represented his best writing (Artur Schnabel, n.d.). Op. 33 are less intimate and tender than Op. 126. They dance, have a driving energy, and are quite playful. Op. 119 represent a collection of works composed throughout Beethoven’s compositional career and were published by Clementi five years before Beethoven’s death and are the most accessible to students. The famous Fur Elise is a bagatelle. Magrath (1995) noted that Beethoven’s bagatelles “have been greatly influential. Some consider the bagatelles of Beethoven to herald the beginning of the 19th century character piece” (p. 62). These delightful pieces span the gamut of originality and offer amateur pianists a reasonable gateway to the music of Beethoven.

            Listen to all of Op. 119 (or a collection assigned by your teacher) of the bagatelles.  Pick a          favorite to share at a performance or music appreciation class -- or just at a future lesson. Be prepared to present the flowing points:

             Describe the piece musically including key, time signature, tempo, and form.

             Describe what you like (and/or don’t like) about the pianist’s performance.

             Be able to point out 3 specific examples of interesting aspects of the piece with timed cues.

             Describe the piece subjectively through a poem, a drawing, a visual image, a symbol and color,               or some other medium showing your interpretation of the piece.

Bagatelle s, Op. 119


No. 1 in G minor: Allegretto   00:00
No. 2 in C major: Andante con moto   02:32
No. 3 in D major: à l'Allemande   03:56
No. 4 in A major: Andante cantabile  05:30
No. 5 in C minor: Risoluto  08:06
No. 6 in G major: Andante - Allegretto   09:17
No. 7 in C major: Allegro, ma non troppo   11:29
No. 8 in C major: Moderato cantabile   12:45
No. 9 in A minor: Vivace moderato   14:49
No. 10 in A major: Allegramente   15:33
No. 11 in Bb major: Andante, ma non troppo   15:47