Or even this, a very common image:
And then we tend to focus, at least in our talk and writing about Beethoven, on the most demanding, not to say depressive pieces like the Symphony No. 9 or the Great Fugue.
But the truth is that Beethoven, like Haydn and Mozart before him, wrote a great deal of amazingly cheerful music. And I'm going to prove it by introducing you to his Piano Sonata Op. 31, No. 3 in E flat major. It has four movements, all very lighthearted and cheerful. There isn't even a true slow movement. That function is given to a minuet, moderato e grazioso. Here are the beginnings (in the biz we like to call them "incipits") of each movement:
A fast, but somehow coy and graceful first movement:
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The very elegant minuet:
And finally, the finale, a presto con fuoco, somewhere between a shindig and a hootenanny:
All together about 20 minutes of sheer, effervescent pleasure and fun. Now let's have a listen. My favorite Beethoven piano sonatas are by Friedrich Gulda. Here they are complete. To listen to just this one, go to YouTube where they are listed with links, or scroll ahead to the 5:12:54 mark:
Now why would we want to privilege Beethoven's more tortured efforts over sheerly beautiful and joyous ones like this? Are we just neurotic?