Beethoven – Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58

by Max Derrickson

Ludwig van Beethoven   (b December 16, 1770, Bonn, Germany; d March 26, 1827,Vienna, Austria)

Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58
1. Allegro moderato
2. Andante con moto
3. Rondo: Vivace

Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto is not a flashy composition, full of bravura or piano pyrotechnics, and in fact, one of its most endearing marvels is how quiet it is.  What makes this one of the great masterpieces in the repertory is the groundbreaking way that Beethoven has crafted its quiescent beauty.

The biggest surprise happens in the first thirteen bars of the first movement.  After many years of piano concertos from Haydn, Mozart and others, the music world of 1806 when this concerto was written knew that a proper concerto begins with a bold introduction by the full orchestra.  [. . .]  But in Beethoven’s Fourth everything is different.    [. . .]

The second movement is differently a marvel.   [. . .]   The finale to this masterpiece is one of the most joyous movements of any concerto.  Here Beethoven employs the old structural convention of a rondo, but within it lie many ingenious musical moments.  The first theme begins quietly, but with real excitement, brimming with joy and playfulness.  To add ebullience, we hear trumpets and timpani for the first time [. . .]