Beethoven, Piano Sonata n°3 (1) in Czerny’s tempo

“Beethoven Like You’ve Never Heard Before”, as the title of a popular Beethoven video goes. Perhaps it’s true for this version as well. His Pianosonata n°3, Opus 10/3 in C Major, played according to what Carl Czerny (and Ignaz Moscheles) gave as their tempi.

Czerny has given us several Metronome Numbers for this sonata, as well as Moscheles did. Both of the great musicians, though they published Beethoven’s works independent from each other, gave metronome numbers that are remarkably well in line.

The ‘secret’ if yo will to understanding those MM is very simple. The note value represents the two-fold unity (both in this case half note), the actual metronome number represents the individual ticks of the metronome, showcasing the conductor’s arm going up and down. Both Czerny/Moscheles are here around 80, so this means they wanted you to play this sonata in a tempo around (as we would note it down quarter note = 80).

Often these tempi work really well. Sometimes you feel the piece a bit slower, a bit faster. But that’s not the point. The point is that in a tempo like this (I take in this case 4th 88), the notation is correct. This Allegro con brio is a fine example of what you could see as a “mésure à quatre temps vite” as the French would describe it some decades earlier. It’s a fast allegro, in the middle of the 4/4 common time (quarter note = 60) and the true Alla Breve (quarter note = 120 / half = 60).

Yes, it’s slower than usual -it’s also more poetic I believe- but no, it’s still not an easy piece to play! Let me know what your impressions are!

Not familiar with Tempo/Metronome research? Start here: