Moonlight Sonata - Ludwig van Beethoven

Moonlight Sonata - Ludwig van Beethoven

Moonlight Sonata, or Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor "Quasi una fantasia”, is a solo piano piece composed by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1801. It is one of the most popular works from his Early period and is considered one of the greatest pieces of the classical repertoire.

History and Release

The piece was composed by Beethoven in 1801, as part of a period in his life when he dedicated himself almost exclusively to drawing (he later referred to this in a letter dated 1802 as his "Sison year", a wordplay on his name). The piece was published in 1802 and was dedicated to Beethoven's former student Giulietta Guicciardi. Giulietta became the subject of an 1802 letter from Beethoven where he wrote of his love for her.

The nickname, "Moonlight Sonata” came more than 20 years after its composition. The circumstances of the creation of this work are quite strange and put a certain metaphysical note.

Simplified Analysis

The Moonlight Sonata consists of three movements. The first movement is in c♯ minor and is written in a compressed sonata form. The movement opens with an octave in the left hand and a triplet figuration in the right hand. The opening features one of Beethoven's most notable motifs: a warped march consisting of an augmented fourth followed by a descending fourth.

The second movement is a lyrical Adagio sostenuto in D-flat major. It has a dreamy, almost meditative feel that is punctuated by sparkling lyrical runs, tinged with romantic harmonies. The last movement is a powerful Presto agitato with a rondo theme and has several flourishes of arpeggios, trills and dramatic pauses.


This sonata has become exceptionally popular, perhaps due to the drama and the romanticism of the piece. As such, it has become an essential standard of the repertoire, a must-know piece for any serious pianist.

Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata is an inspiring, beautiful and iconic piece of music, and an important milestone in the development of classical music.


It is amazing that a single captivating piece of music like "Moonlight Sonata" has been able to captivate the imagination of many generations, from Beethoven’s own until today. Its combination of power and poignancy shows that Beethoven was still able to create beauty, even during a troubled time in his life.

Publication date: 18. 02. 2023