The greatest piano concerto ever written, in my opinion, is Ludwig Van Beethoven’s 5th piano concerto in E-flat Major, known as “The Emperor”. Beethoven’s music crossed two great eras of the masters, the classical and the romantic. Beethoven’s Emperor piano concerto exuded romanticism through and through. It is truly one of the great Romantic pieces-not just as a piano concerto, but of all genres of classical music.
The long mesmerizing first movement, Allegro, is majestic in stature. There have been studies that have showed that listening to a piece by Mozart in the background increases ones concentration and brain power. I think that is also very true of the first movement of Beethoven’s 5th piano concerto.
In most classical concertos you hear in the first movement a long tutti by the orchestra before the soloist comes in; but in Beethoven’s Emperor concerto, after a loud chord by the orchestra, the pianist immediately comes in with gusto [Beethoven is letting the orchestra know who is in charge of this concerto]. This pattern happens three times before Beethoven finally allows the orchestra to give their long tutti introduction before the soloist comes in again. After the exposition and development, there is an extended recapitulation that is split with a short cadenza before the emphatic ending to the movement.
The second movement, Adagio un poco mosso, is one of the great romantic movements ever composed in the concerto repertoire. This slow movement is so moving and beautiful. There is no break between the second and final movement but rather a bridge connecting the slow romantic second movement with the exciting finale rondo movement.
The third movement, Rondo: Allegro ma non troppo, is a perfect ending to an epic piano concerto. As I said, the lead in to the third movement is a soft slow bridge from the second, culminating with an explosive, exciting statement by the soloist as the third movement begins. Just as in the beginning of the concerto, the final movement is taken over by the soloist before the entrance of the orchestra. This positive movement ends with a definitive triumphant and satisfying conclusion.
Anyone listening to this concerto at the concert hall or on a recording will know they have just listened to beauty and greatness.
Please play in full screen and turn up the volume and enjoy the great Piano Concerto #5 in E Flat Major, The Emperor, from “the master,” Ludwig Van Beethoven: