Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.8 in C minor “Pathetique” 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.8 in C minor.

First Movement (Grave – Allegro Di Molto E Con Brio)

Form: Sonata Form. C minor.

Beethoven Piano Sonata No.8 in C minor, Op.13 'Pathetique' Analysis 1


Bars 1-10: This is the first of the Sonatas (taking them in the order which they appeared) with an introduction. The first bar phrase is the groundwork upon which the whole of the introduction is written. It is very modulatory in character, ending on the chord of the dominant minor ninth.


Bars 1-9: First Subject in C minor (tonic). Rhythmically the first subject ends at the end of Bar 8. The first four bars are constructed upon tonic pedal point.

Bars 9-41: Connecting Episode. The connecting episode begins with a repetition of the first subject ending upon the dominant, Bars 9-17, followed by a passage in C minor, also ending on the dominant, Bars 17-21, repeated, Bars 21-25. Three passages founded upon the first subject, Bars 25-27 (key of G), Bars 28-31 (key of A flat), and Bars 32-35 (key of B flat), and six bars, Bars 35-40, principally composed of a repetition of the first cadence, on pedal point (the time being augmented), lead to the appearance of the second subject.

Bars 41-111: Second Subject in E flat minor and E flat major. The second subject begins in E flat minor instead of E flat major. It is divided into three parts: first part, Bars 41-79 (beginning in E flat minor); second part, Bars 79-103 (in E flat major); third part, Bars 103-111 (in E flat major).

Bars 111-124: Coda. The Coda contains a portion of the first subject in E flat major, it ends of the first inversion of the dominant seventh of G minor, Bar 124.

Double bar and repeat.


Bars 125-187: The development commences in G minor when the first two bars of the introduction, the second of which is repeated, Bar 127, and at the end of it there is an enharmonic modulation (E flat to D sharp) into E minor. The introduction is again referred to, Bars 132-133 and 138-139, the figure used being undoubtedly taken from it.


Bars 187-195: First Subject in original key.

Bars 195-213: Connecting Episode. The connecting episode begins with a repetition of the first four bars of the first subject, and is formed principally upon Bars 5-6 of the same subject. Expecting at the commencement and at the close, it quite differs from the original connecting episode.

Bars 213-277: Second Subject in F minor and C minor. The first part of the second subject (instead of being in C minor) re-appears first in F minor, Bars 213-229. At Bar 229 it, as well as the other parts, occur in the tonic key.

Bars 277-End: Coda. The Coda commences with a portion of the first subject, followed by four bars “Grave,” derived from the introduction, ending with a final reference to the first subject.

Second Movement (Adagio Cantabile)

Form: Rondo Form. Ab major.

Beethoven Piano Sonata No.8 in C minor, Op.13 'Pathetique' Analysis 2


Bars 1-16: First Subject in A flat major (tonic). The first subject of eight bars ending on full close in the tonic is repeated (varied) an eighth higher, Bars 9-16.

Bars 16-29: Episode, beginning in F minor. This episode begins, Bar 16, in F minor, but at Bar 20 it modulates to E flat, the dominant.

Bars 29-36: First Subject in original key. The first subject re-appears without a varied repetition.


Bars 37-51: Episode. This episode commences in A flat minor. In it are two instances of enharmonic modulation: at Bar 42, where it modulates to E major, in which key the first part is repeated, and at Bar 48 (the modulation here being from the key of E major into the chord of the dominant minor ninth of E flat). This chord is followed by dominant harmony (chords of the eleventh and dominant seventh) leading into the third appearance of the first subject in tonic key. At the commencement of this episode the rhythm of the harmony of the accompaniment is changed into triplets, and continues so to the end of the movement.


Bars 51-66: First Subject in original key. The first subject is repeat an eighth higher (as at the commencement), Bar 59.

Bars 66-End: Coda.

Third Movement  (Allegro)

Form: Rondo Form. C minor. 

Beethoven Piano Sonata No.8 in C minor, Op.13 'Pathetique' Analysis 3


Bars 1-18: First Subject in C minor (tonic). The first subject ends Bar 9, Bars 10-18 being only a continuation of it.

Bars 19-26: Episode. This episode is in sequential form, a phrase in F minor, Bars 19-22, being repeated (with slight alterations) in E flat major, Bars 23-26.

Bars 26-44: Second Subject in E flat major. The second subject is considered by some writers to extend to Bar 52

Bars 44-62: After the second subject there is a passage leading back to tonic key ending of dominant seventh, it is constructed mainly upon a part of the second subject (Bars 34-35).

Bars 62-79: First Subject in original key.


Bars 79-108: Third Subject in A flat. The third subject, Bars 79-87, is varied, Bars 88-95. After four bars of imitation it appears again (varied), Bars 100-108.

Bars 108-121. After the second variation of the third variation, ending on the dominant, Bar 108, there is a passage of fourteen bars on dominant pedal point preparatory to the third entry of the first subject.


Bars 121-129: First subject in original key. The first subject re-appears without the “continuation” referred to at the First Part.

Bars 129-135: Episode. This episode is built upon the sixth and seventh bars of the first subject. It is sequential in form, Bars 130-131 in C minor are repeated, Bars 132-133. It then modulates, by the aid of the augmented sixth, to the key of C major, in which key the second subject immediately begins.

Bars 135-154: Second Subject in C major (tonic).

Bars 154-172: The connecting passage (similar to Bars 44-62) is altered and prolonged.

Bars 172-183: First subject in original key. The “continuation” of the first subject (referred to in the First Part). is varied and curtailed.

Bars 183-End: Coda. The Coda begins with a passage, Bars 183-187, founded upon a part of the second subject (Bar 34) varied and lengthened, Bars 187-194. It is followed by a passage in C minor, Bars 194-203, modulating by means of the Neapolitan sixth (Bar 199) to the dominant seventh of A flat major; the passage ends on pause, Bar 203, and a final reference to the first subject in the key of A flat major (repeat); it modulates back to the tonic key by means of the chord of the augmented sixth, Bar 208. The movement closes with a descending passage in the harmonic minor scale.