Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.32 in C minor


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.32 in C minor Op.111.

First Movement (Maestoso – Allegro Con Brio Ed Appassionato)

Form: Sonata Form. C minor. 

Beethoven Piano Sonata No.32 in C minor, Op.111 Analysis 1


Bars 1-17: The introduction commences with a phrase in C minor, ending upon the dominant, Bars 1-3, which is repeated in F minor, Bars 3-5, followed by a passage founded  upon the same phrase, which is peculiar on account of the bass forming the complete chromatic scale from G flat to A flat in contrary motion with the treble; it comes to a close upon the dominant, Bar 12, at which bar a dominant pedal point appears which is continued to the end of the introduction, Bar 3, of “Allegro con brio.”

Bars 1-3: A continuation of the dominant pedal point that began at Bar 12 of “Maestoso,” ending on Bar 3.


Bars 4-19: First Subject in C minor (tonic). The first subject begins on the second half of the fourth beat of bar 4, preceded by an anticipatory passage, Bars 3-4. It is of two bars’ length, Bars 5-6; the last bar is repeated, Bar 7; Bars 8-9 are a development of the third beat of the sixth bar. Two bars of brilliant passages based upon the chord of the minor ninth lead to the resumption of the first subject, harmonized, which, after a passage in contrary motion, ends with full close in tonic key.

Bars 19-34: Connecting Episode. The connecting episode consists of a fugal development of a varied version of the first subject, closing at Bar 34 in E flat.

Bars 34-39: Second Subject in A flat major. The second subject, instead of being in E flat major, is in A flat major, Bars 34-36; it is repeated (varied), Bars 36-38; it ends upon the first inversion of the chord of A flat major, Bar 39.

Bars 39-53: Coda. The Coda, after two introductory bars, Bars 39-41, begins with a four-bar phrase in A flat major, Bars 42-45, the bass of which is derived from the first subject, and is repeated in the treble with slight alterations, Bars 45-49. A chromatic passage brings the exposition to an end in A flat major, Bar 53.

Bars 55-56: Bars 55-56 lead to the development.

Double bar and repeat.


Bars 57-77: The development refers principally to the first subject. Bars 61-67 consist of a fugal treatment of the first subject, which is augmented in one part and in the original time in another. A dominant pedal point (Bars 71-75) prepares the ear for the entry of the first subject (Bar 77).


Bars 77-85: First Subject in original key. The first subject re-appears in double octaves, the second bar (Bar 78) is repeated twice (instead of once as before) (Bar 79-80), and forms the basis of the next few bars, which resemble Bars 16-17, but the full close in the tonic is interrupted, and the passage ends in F minor, Bar 85.

Bars 85-101: Connecting Episode. The connecting episode is slightly altered and transposed so as to begin in F minor and end on G.

Bars 101-106: Second Subject in C major. The second subject re-appears in tonic major key, and at Bar 107 a prolongation of it begins.

Bars 107-116: A prolongation of the second subject begins, Bar 7. The principle phrase occurs in F minor in the Bass, Bars 109-110 (it is strikingly similar to the beginning of the second subject in the last movement of the so-called “Moonlight” Sonata). A development of the second subject continues till Bar 117.

Bars 117-End: Coda. The Coda, after three introductory bars, Bars 1117-119, begins with the same material as in the exposition, transposed into C minor (tonic key); after Bar 131, however, it is extended by four bars referring to the first subject, Bars 131-134, and by a phrase occurring (varied) three times, ending in the tonic major key.


Second Movement (Arietta – Adagio Molto Semplice E Cantabile)

Form: Air With Variations. C Major. 

Beethoven Piano Sonata No.32 in C minor, Op.111 Analysis 2


Bars 1-18: The “Air is divided into two sections, both repeated. The first section, Bars 1-9, commences with a four-bar phrase, and ends with half-close on dominant, followed by another four-bar phrase ending in tonic key. The second section, Bars 11-18, is also composed of two four-bar phrases; the first, Bars 11-14, in A minor, ending with half-close on the dominant of that key; the second, Bars 14-18, being in the tonic key. There is no break of any kind between the air and the first variation, or between the variations themselves.


Bars 19-37: The first variation is characterized by a triplet figure in the Bass, the melody being written in the same rhythm as the first two notes of the air.


Bars 40-57: In the second variation the time is changed to 6/16.


Bars 59-77: The third variation is in 12/32 time, sweeping arpeggios against syncopated chords form the principle feature of this variation.


Bars 78-110: The fourth variation is in 9/16 time. A great deal of it is constructed upon a pedal point in the bass, see Bars 78-85, 95-98, and 99-102. The repetitions of both sections, written out in full, Bars 86-94 and Bars 103-110, are characterized by the very florid part for the right hand.

Bars 111-143: Coda. This variation is followed by a Coda commencing, Bar 111, upon tonic pedal point. At Bar 120 the perfect cadence is interrupted by the supertonic D being prolonged by a shake, together with references to the “Air.” This note (D) at Bar 124 is made the leading note to E flat major, the chord of the sixth on B natural being followed by the dominant seventh on B flat. This chord continues till Bar 128, where the seventh, A flat, begins to rise chromatically to D, the leading note, Bar 130, and resolves into E flat major, Bar 132, introducing a phrase of the “Air” (varied) from Bars 6, 7, 8, at Bars 132, 133, 134. The latter bar is then treated in sequence, Bars 134-149, followed by another sequence closing in A flat major, Bars 139-143, succeeded at Bar 144 by a diminished seventh on F sharp, resolving on the dominant of C preparatory to the entry of Variation 5 in that key.


Bars 145-161: In Variation 5 the melody of the air is very prominently given in the treble part against a florid bass. The two sections are not repeated in this variation.

Bars 161-176: Coda. At Bar 161 there begins a Coda formed upon the last three notes of the air, the final cadence of which resolved into Variation 6, Bar 176.


Bars 176-185: Variation 6 is constructed entirely upon an inverted dominant pedal point. The air is easily distinguishable; the first phrase in the inner part, Bars 176-180; the second phrase in the upper part, Bars 180-184, accompanied by a tremolo bass.

Bars 185-End: Coda. At Bar 185 a prolongation of the variation commences upon tonic pedal point, which gives place to a passage in imitation, Bar 187. Three bars suggestive of the beginning of the “Air” bring this Sonata to a close.