Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.23 in F minor “Appassionata” Analysis


For the benefit of all pianists learning this work, we present to you a concise and easy to use analysis of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No.23 in F minor Op.57 “Appassionata”

First Movement (Allegro Assai)

Form: Sonata Form. F Minor. 

Beethoven Piano Sonata No.23 in F minor, Op.57 'Appassionata' Analysis 1


Bars 1-17: First Subject in F minor (tonic). The first subject begins with a four-bar phrase, ending on the dominant (Bars 1-5), followed by the same phrase transposed a semitone higher, ending in D flat major, that key being modulated to by means of the Neapolitan sixth, Bars 5-7, which is also the subdominant chord of D flat major. Bars 8-9 are repeated (in original key), Bars 10-11, and at Bats 12-13 in key of tonic. At Bar 11 a figure is introduced undoubtedly suggestive of the principle figure of the fist movement of Beethoven’s C minor Symphony. The subject ends on a half-close on the dominant, Bar 17. The A natural, Bar 8, should be written B double flat, it being the minor ninth of A flat.

Bars 17-36: Connecting Episode. The first few bars of the connecting episode are derived from the first subject, Bars 17-25. At Bar 25 a new figure appears in triplets, forming an inverted pedal point upon the dominant of the relative major, in which key the episode ends, Bar 36. The E natural in Bar 33 would be more correctly written F flat, minor ninth of the dominant of A flat major.

Bars 36-62: Second Subject beginning in A flat major. The second subject, Bars 36-62, is divided into two parts. The first part, Bars 36-51, in A flat major, bears some resemblance to the figure used at the commencement of the first subject. The last four bars, Bars 48-51, lead to the key of A flat minor, in which key the second part of this subject begins, and ends, Bars 52-62; it forms a complete contrast to the previous part.

Bars 62-66: Coda.


Bars 66-136: The development, Bars 66-136, contains references to both the first and second subjects as well as to the connecting episode. It begins, after an introductory bar, with the first four bars of the first subject in E major. Bars 25-32 are reproduced with slight alterations in the key of D flat, Bars 94-106. Bars 124-135 are entirely occupied with the chord of the minor ninth of the dominant, accompanied, Bars 131-135, by the figure which appeared, Bar 11.


Bars 136-152: First Subject in original key. A pedal point accompanies the whole of the first subject on its re-appearance, Bars 136-140, upon the dominant, Bars 140-144 upon D flat; Bars 145-152 upon the dominant.

Bars 152-175: Connecting Episode. The connecting episode, Bars 152-175, begins like the original one, but it is extended by four bars (160-165), after which it is transposed so as to end in F major (tonic major).

Bars 175-201: Second Subject beginning in F major (tonic). The first part of the second subject appears in the tonic major key, Bar 175. The second part, Bars 191-201, is in the tonic key.

Bars 201-End: Coda. The Coda is elongated, Bar 205; it is constructed upon previous material. The second subject is referred to twice, at Bar 211 in D flat major, and at Bar 241 in F minor. The Coda ends with six bars of tonic harmony.

Second Movement (Andante Con Moto)

Form: Air With Variations. Db Major. 

Beethoven Piano Sonata No.23 in F minor, Op.57 'Appassionata' Analysis 2


Bars 1-16: The air consists of two section of eight bar (repeated), each section containing two phrases of four bars, ending with perfect cadence on tonic chord. In Bar 6 the E natural should be written F flat, as the chord is evidently that of the German augmented sixth, roots E flat and A flat. This alteration in notation, however, causes consecutive fifths with the bass [F flat / B double flat] and [E flat / A flat]. In the variations the B double flat in this chord appears as A natural.


Bars 17-35: Syncopation is freely used in the first variation.


Bars 36-52: In the second variation the harmony is in arpeggios.


Bars 53-85: The third variation seems to combine the devices used in the two preceding variations – the syncopation of the first and the arpeggios of the second, the latter appearing in demisemiquavers (thirty-second notes). Instead of the repeat, this variation is written in full, the figures in Bars 53-61 being inverted, Bars 61-69, and the Bars 69-77, at Bars 77-85.


Bars 86-End: The original melody re-appears without repeats. Instead of the final chord in the tonic, the third inversion of the minor ninth interrupts the close of the air. This chord is repeated preparatory to the entry of the third movement in F minor.

Third Movement  (Allegro Ma Non Troppo)

Form: Sonata Form. F Minor. 

Beethoven Piano Sonata No.23 in F minor, Op.57 'Appassionata' Analysis 3

There is no break between the second and third movements.


Bars 1-19: Introduction. The Introduction commences with the third inversion of the dominant minor 9th. This chord is repeated thirteen times. A scale passage constructed upon it finally resolves on the tonic at Bar 20.

Bars 20-64: First Subject in F minor (tonic). The first subject may be divided into two parts. The first part begins and ends in the tonic key, Bars 20-28, repeated with alterations in the bass, Bars 28-36. The second part also begins and ends int the tonic key, Bars 36-50, repeated (varied), Bars 50-64.

Bars 64-75: Connecting Episode. The connecting episode is entirely founded upon the first two bars of the first subject, accompanied by the harmony of the tonic chord for four bars, Bars 64-67, the dominant chord of C minor, Bars 68-71, and the chord of C minor, Bars 72-75.

Bars 76-96: Second Subject in C minor. Instead of being in the relative major key, the second subject is in the key of C minor; it ends on half-close, Bar 85, and is repeated (varied), Bars 86-96, ending with full close.

Bars 96-108: Coda. The Coda is founded on the first subject, and consists entirely of the harmony of the tonic and dominant of C minor.

Bars 108-117: Bars 108-117 form a passage leading to the development.


Bars 118-211: The development is principally based on previous material. A new subject appears, Bar 142, and continues to Bar 158, when the first subject is again referred to. It ends on dominant pedal point of six bars.


Bars 212-256: First Subject in original key. The first part of the first subject re-appears with a new variation, Bars 220-228. The second part re-appears unaltered, Bras 228-256.

Bars 256-267: Connecting Episode. This connecting episode resembles the first one, and begins in the same key. Bars 260-267 however, are transposed into the key of D flat major, the subdominant chord of which is used in the beginning of the re-appearance of the second subject, treated as a Neapolitan sixth in the key of F minor (tonic), in which key the second subject is reproduced.

Bars 268-288: Second Subject in F minor (tonic).

Bars 288-300: Coda. The Coda is the same as that in the exposition, but it can only be looked upon as being the coda of the recapitulation, not of the whole movement; for instead of being lengthened, and forming the concluding part of the movement, as usual, it is followed by a passage, Bars 304-307, leading to a repetition of the development and recapitulation (which is unusual), after which, with Bars 308-315, it leads to the final Coda, “Presto.”

Bars 300-307: Bars 304-307 lead to a repetition of the development and recapitulation.

Double bar and repeat from Bar 118.

Bars 308-315:  Bars 308-315 lead to the final Coda, “Presto.”

Bars 316-End: Coda. The final Coda begins with a new subject in two parts, both repeated and founded upon the same material. (The first part begins in the tonic key, the second in A flat major.) Bars 355 to the end are founded on the first subject.