Adagio cantabile

Welcome! 🙂 I hope the daily music posts here on the blog are giving you a boost, in these strange and unsettling times. If you’re new to the series and would like to check out earlier posts, you’ll find the first one here.

Today’s recording is a re-post, with small apologies…small because it’s a really beautiful piece. (It’s time for me to restock my collection of recordings.) This piece is one of my favorites: the second movement of Beethoven’s “Pathetique” Sonata.

At the time that Beethoven wrote the “Pathetique,” he was struggling with his deteriorating hearing. He was still a young man, full of ambition to make a name for himself as a concert pianist, but increasingly aware that his deafness was progressing and nothing his doctors did seemed able to reverse that deterioration. When he wrote this gentle, lyrical movement, he was full of uncertainty and apprehension. I think it’s easy to imagine him reaching out, looking for peace during this most difficult time for him.

A little about the tempo marking of this movement, “Adagio cantabile” (ah-DAH-jo cahn-TAH-bee-leh). The word “Adagio” is usually taken to mean “pretty slow” in music, but in Italian, it’s literally ad agio, which means at ease. The word cantabile means singing. This movement, then, is a song sung from a place of peace.

As you listen today, think about what brings you peace, or where you look for comfort during these strange and difficult times we’re all experiencing. As always, you’re welcome to share your thoughts and responses to the music in the comments.

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