Marathon Sundays: Beethoven's 32 Piano Sonatas

Monday, November 05, 2012

Free Download: Paul Lewis performs the "Waldstein" Sonata, First Movement *

This Sunday, Nov. 11, WQXR brings you the second of four Sunday Beethoven marathons. The day goes the composer's 32 piano sonatas, played in order, starting at 10 am.

David Dubal, the noted author and piano authority, provides commentary throughout the marathon. View a complete playlist of the marathon as it unfolds in real-time.

This follows last Sunday's Beethoven symphony marathon. Below is the month's schedule.

November Marathon Sundays:

Nov. 4 — Beethoven’s complete symphonies.

Nov. 11 — Beethoven's complete piano sonatas.

Nov. 18 — Beethoven’s complete string quartets performed live from the Greene Space. (More information and tickets.)

Nov. 25 —Beethoven's complete concertos.

* The free download is available on WQXR's Facebook Page. Not on Facebook, no problem. You can also receive it in our weekly email newsletter. Sign up here:

Below: The "Bus Station Sonata" was created with commuters and passers-by from the Haymarket Bus Station in Newcastle, England.


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Comments [10]

Ama K Hruby from Brooklyn, NY


I was still recovering from a hospital stay during Hurricane Sandy on November 11. I believe I missed Beethoven's Complete Piano Sonatas. Could you play the slow movement of the Apassionata, performed by Murray Perahia?

Thank you,
Ama K Hruby, a fan in heaven

Nov. 25 2012 10:01 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

BEETHOVEN'S FIVE CONCERTOS ARE EACH MASTERPIECES AND LIKE HIS NINE SYMPHONIES AND ONE OPERA AND 158 SONGS THEY ALL EXPRESS A HUMANITY AND SOUL !!! Great pianists who have explored in depth in performance Beethoven's concertos are/were Vladimir Horowitz, Artur Rubinstein, Ignace Paderevski, Walter Gieseking, Artur Schnabel, Jesus Roma Sanroma, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Alexander Brailovsky, Emil Gilels, Benno Moisevitch, Alfred Cortot, Rudolf and Peter Serkin, Simon Barere, Josef Hofmann, Lang ;Lang, Leon Fleischer, Jose Iturbi, Daniel Barenboim, Leonard Bernstein and Franz Liszt. Beethoven's symphonies, opera, concertos, sonatas, string quartets, overtures, chamber music generally , and song literature, is so pervasive and his world consciousness and basic humanity construct an icon unparalleled to and past his own era. At Juilliard, I studied his oeuvre and , in those days, all singers learned the concert rep of Beethoven , Schubert , Schumann, Wolf and Grieg, whether they would be opera singers or concert singers . So much of our treasured masterpieces, vocal and instrumental, are unknown quantities to most Americans. THANK YOU WQXR FOR CELEBRATING BEETHOVEN !!! Wagner and his contemporaries and their successors all recognized the epic achievement of Beethoven. I am a romantischer Wagnerian heldentenor and director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute at 418A Main Street, Boonton, NJ . I have sung four solo concerts in the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall. As part of my Ten Language Solo Debut concert at the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall, I sang the Gott ! welch dunkel hier ! aria of Fidelio. it can be heard from the live performance on my three websites, one of which is It received rave critical notices in newspapers and magazines.

Nov. 24 2012 07:14 PM
meredith from nyc

The sonata marathon was greatly appreciated...David Dubal's brief comments and clips were excellent, and added to the enjoyment of the event. The choices of artists was wonderful. A few years ago wnyc did 32 sonatas in 32 days--also great--but doing them all on 1 marathon day was even more revealing and enlightening--increasing the impact and highlighting the enormous journey this composer traversed.

David Dubal does broadcast on a NJ station wed nights, as I learned from another comment. Why not wqxr? I hope he resumes his broadcasts, but if not, please just rebroadcast all the old ones. Why should they be hidden away in a library, when listeners could be enjoying them? Same goes for all the Jellinek Vocal Scene's, and the old First Hearing shows--and also the interviews that Leonard Bernstein's daughter did with famous people on their music tastes.....all these are treasures and could be increasing the enjoyment of a new generation of listener--which you need to keep wqxr on the air. How do you think I and many others learned about operas and singers if not for years of The Vocal Scene? So could you please consider re airing all of these?

Nov. 16 2012 01:27 PM
Silversalty from The dungeon in Brooklyn

I should have checked.

Bill McGlaughlin

Ironically when he was broadcast at 6AM on Sundays I was able to listen to him. Not so much any more.

My apologies for the spelling error.

Nov. 12 2012 10:21 PM
Silversalty from Brooklyn

I was too tired yesterday after work to post a comment so here goes.

Of course having superb Beethoven piano music played for hours on end was enjoyable. Thank you Mr. B. That said the day's production had to be about the least useful means of presenting the insights, personality, passion and knowledge of David Dubal. Having "live" hosts parrot what Dubal was about to say and then again repeat the intro to the piece that Dubal just recited was a waste of time and turned a valuable teacher into a tape splice. Dubal was lobotomized and de-humanized. At one point the parroting extended into parody. Dubal intro-ed a piece by describing an interpretation by Claudio Arrau only to have that piece played by Rudolf Serkin. WT farthing? The message projected was, 'Who cares what this tape splice says?'

I understand that it was too much to expect Mr. Dubal to host live for all the hours necessary for the marathon. Still, his intros should have been tied directly to the Beethoven sonatas played. No interjections by others. How hard would that have been?

I also understand the need to push QXR home grown pieces, as last year's live marathon contained. That doesn't explain or justify the jumbling of Dubal's insights.

Bad job handling what should easily have been far far better. Dubal is quality. That's not what was heard.

Another excellent insightful host QXR has is Bill McLaughlin. Having him do some sound bite that gets repeated ad nauseum through the day was for me a big mistake. Sure the first few hearings generated a sense of enlightenment. But not much later a sense of annoyance takes over to the point of 'STFU Bill, I hoid you the foist twahny toimes.' Neither the listeners nor Mr. McL deserve that.

One of the 'live hosts', after a sonata played by Glenn Gould was broadcast, commented that it was played and sung by Gould. I was listening closely and though I could easily note the distinct clarity of Gould I couldn't detect his singing. Maybe it was the poor quality of the car audio? But then the piece was followed by a Horowitz interpretation. Compared to Gould, even Horowitz, in the rapid sequences, sounded what I'll call - smudged.

How often does the Q play Gould/Horowitz back-to-back? Thank you Mr. D for the comparative opportunity.

Nov. 12 2012 10:00 PM
Paul from Brooklyn, NY

I was disappointed in Mr. Dubal's comments on most of the Sonatas. Most of the brief comments on each movement sounded like album jacket notes. This may be because of the time alloted to him, because I know he has a lot more to say about these pieces. He needs his own show back on WQXR.

Nov. 11 2012 07:28 PM

@ C. L. DuBarton - WQXR lists all of the pieces after they are played on this site's daily playlist page. You may find the list for today at the following page location (a link is also on this page)

Under each host's segment, expand to see the list and read the information we have posted about each piece we have played in reverse chronological order.

Nov. 11 2012 02:07 PM
C. L. DuBarton from Atlantic Highlands, NJ

Every radio and TV station I have ever consulted online lists the entire programming with a < or >, listing the piece that is, or was, played, and what is next. But not WQXR! In the few seconds I was distracted, I missed the name of the artist who had played Sonata #7. I heard the performance, and all the others as well, so I went to this slow loading, too pretty site, which wastes bandwidth without delivering information. This is true of way too many other sites, you are not alone. But many of us older folks (and we are among your best customers and supporters) are financially restricted to dail-up, and your miserable lack of information, which could easily be remedied by less pretty, more informational and informative listings, has left me in the dark. I hope at some point you will post the entire list of performers, and which Beethoven sonata they played, rather than the bandwidth wasting links to sales of the recording. If I want to go to ArkivMusic or Amazon, they are already on my favorites list, I can easily (and more quickly) get there on my own!
I also welcome back David Dubal. His lamented program of comparative piano performances was most enjoyable, as well as informative. It led to many purchases of CDs, notably to the subject at hand the complete Beethoven Sonatas recording of Seymour Lipkin! Although I still prefer the complete set by Barenboim on DG, Lipkin is wonderful. My favorite Ludwig sonata is the 'Waldstein', and I prefer the individual Gilels-DG recording marginally over Barenboim. Paul Lewis is different, but also very fine.
Please, post the whole list!

Nov. 11 2012 01:58 PM
roberta gould

The hour of the 32 sonatas..

is not listed...

What time does it begin?


Roberta Gould

Nov. 11 2012 07:00 AM
Eileen Pollock from New York City

I'm so glad Mr. Dubal is returning to WQXR, and hosting what he is most knowledgeable about - the Beethoven piano sonatas. (Of course, Mr. Dubal is most knowledgeable about all things pianistic.)

The five years I spent in Mr. D's piano appreciation class at Juilliard were the most enriching musical experience. Not only musically, but it sparked my own creativity in unexpected ways.

I recommend his class to everyone I feel would love classical piano. Mr. D makes the piano literature come alive. He taught me so much. Mr. Dubal is truly Dubalesque and I wish him only success.

Mr. Dubal and his informative books have shaped my listening, told me which CD's are most significant, and which pianists of the past should populate my CD shelves. i-Tunes remains a mystery to me, and I suspect, to Mr. Dubal too, whose metier remains piano, paper and pen. I look forward to being available to listen to his Beethoven 32 when I'm in the city.

Eileen Pollock

Nov. 09 2012 11:20 AM

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About Beethoven Awareness Month

No composer impacted the course of Western music like Ludwig van Beethoven. The events of his life are the stuff of Romantic legend, his works permeate concert halls and he remains a cultural icon outside of classical music, turning up in movies, TV soundtracks, commercials and pop songs. Throughout November, WQXR celebrates Beethoven's work through concert broadcasts, multimedia projects, marathons and other features.