Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ludwig van Beethoven: Opus 1-138

Update: I compiled a more comprehensive Beethoven Complete Chronological Catalogue, and stopped updating this one.


I made my Spotify playlist of Beethoven last week. It's great to see Spotify offers so many great recordings of LvB's works, and I had to restrain myself to selecting only one interpretation for every composition, otherwise the playlist would stretch for miles. Here's the principles that shaped this playlist:

1, The diversity. There's no such thing as the definite Moonlight sonata, and I hope this playlist could also function as a Beethoven index on Spotify, so I tried to include as many excellent interpretations as possible. For example, for Symphony No.1 I chose Wand's RCA recording for the vivid young spirit, Harnoncourt's No.2 for its thought provoking manner, Walter's Eroica for its sublime humanity, Gardiner's 4th for the blazing energy, Klemperer's 5th for the heaviest sound of fortune's wheel ever captured on wax, Karajan's Pastoral for the sheer beauty, Solti's 7th for its swing, Vänskä's 8th for the dynamics and buoyancy, and Furtwängler's 9th for it's the second coming of Beethoven himself. For the piano sonatas, we've got, among others, Gilels's Hammerklavier, Arrau's Appassionata, Pollini's Moonlight, Horowitz's Waldstein, and, IMHO the greatest recording of Op.109-111 from Richter.

2, The sound quality. Personally I listen to a lot of mono recordings from old masters like Edwin Fischer and Cortot, and if you want to know the Beethoven piano sonatas you really should know Schnabel's recording from the 1930s. But the aim of this playlist is mainly to present Beethoven's works in descent sound quality that will please most classical listeners, so I chose mostly stereo recordings. Only one sonata by Schnabel so that you can find his complete set at ease.

3, The opus numbers. You can find many complete sets of Beethoven's symphonies, chamber works etc. on Spotify, so I didn't sort this playlist by genre, but simply followed the order of the opus numbers. And I didn't include any of the WoOs here, so no Für Elise:) All the WoOs might be another playlist someday.

OK, here's the Spotify playlist of Ludwig van Beethoven: Op. 1-138 (632 tracks, 2.8 days) And this is the wiki page for the list of works.

I hope it will help you to enjoy LvB's music. To me, I absolutely adore him, but also afraid to come to him too close. He is like the Kurosawa of music, the man of men with incomparable genius, moral integrity and the earth-shattering power. Every time I put on a Kurosawa film, I carefully prepared to be knocked down beforehand. Beethoven is the same for me, only more frightful because he was deaf:)


  1. We don't have access to Spotify in South Africa!! Sob. You people in Europe are VERY fortunate.

  2. I believe there is a way to use Spotify outsie Europe. You should do some detective work and maybe you'll find something.

    Thanks a lot for the playlist! Beethoven is my favourite composer, he's also the one who got me listening to classical music.

  3. Hi Ulysses,

    I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your playlists. They really enhance the already great Spotify to new levels of awesomeness.

    For example: I'm trying to think of any other way to get the opportunity to listen to Beethoven's Op. 1 - 138 without spending thousands on iTunes or on a CD collection. With your list and Spotify it's possible.

    Thank you and keep up the good work!

  4. While enjoying your playlist (despite being a long time Beethoven listener, I just heard the Sonata for Horn and Piano in F for the first time in my life) I discovered that two opuses are missing: the two piano sonatas in Op. 14 and the cantata in Op. 136. Both are available on Spotify (at least here in Sweden).

    Again, thank you for these great playlists!

  5. Thank Magnus, I just put the Op.14 sonatas in, and would you please paste the Spotify link to the Op. 136 cantata here, and I'll put in. I think it might be only avaiable in Sweden for now but hopefully they will work out the copyright issue soon;)

  6. Op. 136, Der glorreiche Augenblick, is available on this Deutsche Grammophon disc: "Beethoven: Large Choral Works".

    I hope it is accesible outside of Sweden.

  7. There seems to be an error with the replacement of his opus 8 serenade with Brahms piano trio opus 8. If this is the case could you please replace the Brahms with Beethoven's serenade

    Thank you


  8. I'm looking for really good recordings of Beethovens Piano Sonatas. Any tips? I really like Brendels Decca-recording of OP. 53...

  9. @Anonymous, take a look at the new Schubert playlist:


    You can use the same method for my two Beethoven playlists.

  10. Today I selected a "new acquisition" in Spotify, called simply Op.8. One track, 8 minutes. It sounds like the 1st movement of a symphony, with lots of similarities to The 5th.
    But Op.8 is a String trio????
    What's going on?

  11. @Anonymous, just a badly tagged track, and that's why we need curated playlists and a better search function. I also think Spotify should get rid of all those low quality recordings like the one you found, "Beethoven played by Beethoven, released by Beethoven Music"...


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