Moonlight Sonata Simplified

Question: Can I get easier sheet music for the Moonlight Sonata first movement?

– Annemarie (Netherlands)

Albert’s reply: The first movement of the Moonlight Sonata is really already as simple as it could possibly be – deceptively so, in fact. (The Moonlight Sonata sheet music is available for free download from key-notes.) The third movement is by contrast a genuine virtuoso work for concert artists.

The Moonlight Sonata really does deserve to be played whole. Those who can play the first movement but not the last may be forgiven, but even the “easy” first movement is full of subtlety only truly accessible to the artist who can play the last movement with an ease equal to the first. The most beautiful and subtle interpretation of the first movement I’ve ever heard is that of Emil von Sauer (1862–1942), whose playing is a master lesson in musical time.

My recommendation to you is to study several shorter, less complex pieces and to approach the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata once you really understand that its challenges are not in the notes themselves but in careful control of musical time and tone colors. Once you’re musically ready (i.e., prepared) for it, you’ll be happy that you were not impatient to learn it.

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