In this series of History through the Piano John Drummond looks at famous pieces of piano music as windows into the world in which they were created. A composer cannot help but reflect the world he lives in, his understanding of life, his values and his beliefs.
Between 1800 and 1803, Napoleon was expanding the French revolution into neighbouring countries. A new political world was being created by Napoleon, at the same time as a new musical world was being created by Beethoven, one in which old norms were being broken down, old relationships being re-thought, old territories opened up in new ways.
When he composed the Waldstein Sonata in the closing months of 1803, Beethoven had come through the crisis of dealing with his growing deafness and he was now determined to express in his music, in a new way, his perception of the potential that lay in the new world he could see being formed. It was a world of opportunity, of liberty and equality, of an end to hierarchical and oppressive controls, a world in which anything was possible.
BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonata No 21, Waldstein - Stephen Kovacevich (piano) - EMI 9 65922