The great late Classical/early Romantic era composer, Ludwig Van Beethoven, composed 5 great piano concertos. I think there is a consensus that his 5th piano concerto “The Emperor”, is his best, and one of the greatest piano concertos ever written. While it is hard to choose because they are all so good and I love them all, I think I would pick his piano concerto #1 as my second favorite of his five concerti.
Ludwig Van Beethoven [1770 – 1827]
If one listens to Beethoven’s first piano concerto, and then his second piano concerto, you might think it is odd that it seems like his first concerto seems a little more substantive and developed than the second. Don’t get me wrong, the second is a great playful, happy concerto with some great melodies. It is a good piano concerto, but you might think that this would have been his first piano concerto he composed and the more substantive work labeled number one as his second.
That is actually the case. Beethoven’s second concerto was actually the first one he composed. The concerto named #1 was actually composed after his piano concerto #2. The reason it is called his first concerto is because in classical music, it is not the time that the piece was composed that determines the number, but when it is published. Since the second one he composed was published first, it is called his first piano concerto.
Beethoven’s piano concerto #1 is in the bright key of C Major with three movements: 1. Allegro con brio, 2. Largo, and 3. Rondo: Allegro Scherzando
In the opening movement there is a long tutti introduction of almost 3 minutes before the soloist enters.
While there is a long tutti to open the concerto,the Beethoven cadenza that is usually played for the first movement is even longer and it is one of the longest cadenzas you will ever hear – almost 5 minutes. (In this video-Khatia plays her own cadenza and not the longer Beethoven cadenza).
Please turn up the volume, play in full screen and enjoy this great Beethoven Piano Concerto [one of my favorite of all piano concerti] that Beethoven composed second, but it is labeled as his #1 piano concerto.
L.V. Beethoven: Piano Concerto #1 in C-Major: