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  Time and Faith in T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in E Major Opus 109   Poetry and music are two different media and yet they can be equally powerful in conveying feeling or meaning of life experiences. We each approach a poem or a musical composition in a unique way and it shapes our intimate experience of art and the interpretations we give it. T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in E Major share some interesting thematic similarities that are worth analyzing because they are expressed in different media. These two themes  –  faith and divinity on the one hand, time and eternity on the other  –  may also be interpreted as a broader more connected subject. In a way poetry is very much like music. Poetry can be described as words set to music in that the focus is on lyrical structure marked by tonal centers and an internal rhythm that evokes a particular affect, belief, sensibility, or experience. The poet’s presentation o f poetic affect is really no different than the emotions a certain piece of music provides the listener. Poetry like music is written in one or more voices. Perhaps it is not surprising that both of these works allow the reader/listener to appreciate their religious beliefs and their notion of time and eternity. Ludwig van Beethoven’s final three sonatas Opus 109 –  111 were written between 1820 and 1822 and are the culmination of his 32 sonatas. From a technical standpoint these three  sonatas show his remarkable genius in the transformation of the sonata form. The music is, at times, dark and foreboding reflecting pain and suffering at the end of his life but it is also expressive of profound religious feeling and thanksgiving. His faith and philosophy are clearly evident in these late period sonatas. Beethoven began losing his hearing at an early age. By the time that Beethoven moved to Heiligenstadt in the countryside around Vienna he was almost totally deaf. In his well-known Heiligenstadt Testament of 1802 Beethoven reflects on his struggle with deafness and his faith in both art and God. Beethoven copied three sentences of Schiller’s “Die Sendung Moses” and had them framed beneath the glass of his writing table: “I am that which is, I am all,  what is, what was, what will be; no mortal man has ever lifted my veil,” and “He is only and solely of himself, and to this only one all things owe their existence.” Beethoven wrote the Missa Solemnis  between 1819 and 1823 in the same period that he composed his final three sonatas. The Missa Solemnis  reaffirms his faith in God in which the formal structure of the Credo  and trinitari an imagery are set to one of Beethoven’s greatest compositions. Beethoven also suffered from end stage liver disease toward the end of his life. His pain and suffering are clearly heard in the Arioso Dolente of the A flat Sonata, Opus 110. It reminds the listener of Bach’s St John’s Passion and conjures up profound religious feelings. The 1 st  Fugue in the same sonata s ounds like Beethoven’s Dona Nobi s Pacem and is an example of Beethoven’s faith in God  and his expression of thanksgiving.  Beethoven’s Sonata in E Major Opus 109 is a remarkable composition and is a tour de force. It was composed while he was also completing his Missa Solemnis . He had part of this sonata already sketched prior to the Berlin music published Adolf Schlesinger asking him for several piano sonatas. This sonata has three movements instead of the usual four that define classical sonata. However, its unusual design would not be unexpected for Beethoven as he continually transformed sonata composition over his lifetime. Beethoven’s form in this first movement is unprecedented and it is written in Vivace and Adagio (Figure 1). They function as two fantasy-like episodes or parenthetical structures that enclose a larger piece of music. The 2/4 bars begin in the tonic with one hand mimicking the other in semiquaver movement that lends a rich texture and lyrical iambic rhythm to this first theme that is established in the first 7 bars. This first subject sounds ethereal, rising and falling in a quick tempo. The order of tempi are reversed in this first movement. Usually the composer begins with a slow tempo but in this sonata the tempo begins fast and then changes to a slow tempo. The Adagio interrupts the cadence on a dominant chord in the 8 th  bar when suddenly the rhythm is slowed and one hears the second subject asserting itself. There are elaborate arpeggiations that mark the complexity and independence of this second subject Its own cadence in the dominant is interrupted by the return of the first theme. The development of the theme and its recapitulation shows the master at work as he bridges the two fantasy-like flowing and contrasting themes.   The 3 rd  movement of Opus 109 is a Theme and Variations movement that begins and ends with a beautiful sweet sounding 16 bar theme in the tonic and dominant. This 16 bar passage frames six variations on the theme presented in Figure 2. This theme has a peaceful, almost heavenly sound. Each variation that follows contains fragments of the melody, harmony, and rhythm of this main theme. Figure 1
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