Beethoven’s “Shakespeare” sonata, “I scorn to change my state with kings;” the great Appassionata.
Opus 57 – the “Appassionata” – one of the greatest works of Beethoven’s so-called “heroic” period, provides the backdrop for the following account:
In the late autumn of 1806, as Beethoven was putting the finishing touches to this sonata, his patron Prince Lichnowski ordered him to perform for officers of the occupying French Army. Beethoven refused, departed in the middle of a furious storm, and later wrote to Lichnowski, “Prince! What you are, you are by circumstance and birth. What I am, I am through myself. Of princes there have and will be thousands. Of Beethovens there is only one!” The manuscript for the Appassionata bears the stains from that rainstorm.
This performance by Murray Perahia is the best I’ve heard. [Notes by Margaret Scialdone.]