Happy 250th Birthday Beethoven!

This week we celebrate what would have been Beethoven’s 250th birthday! How wonderful that Beethoven’s body of music continues to thrive to this day, globally beloved for its unique, varied and profound beauty.

I have been in search of a Beethoven piece to arrange for you that would uplift us all, and help us to celebrate this important date; these days we need all the celebrations we can get! I decided upon a piece that not everyone will know, but I believe everyone will enjoy. As far as I can tell, this piece has never been adapted to solo intermediate piano, so you might be amongst the very first to play it!

Click to listen to Beethoven’s CHORAL FANTASY (finale)!

Isn’t it a wonderful piece? Some say the Choral Fantasy sounds a little like Beethoven’s Ode to Joy theme (listen at 1:25), but Choral Fantasy was written first, so perhaps Ode to Joy sounds a little like the Choral Fantasy! The two pieces are also similar in that they both deliver a message of universal love. Here is the English translation (from German) for the Choral Fantasy lyrics:

Graceful, charming and sweet is the sound of our life’s harmonies, and from a sense of beauty arise flowers which eternally bloom. Peace and joy advance in perfect concord, like the changing play of the waves. All that was harsh and hostile, has turned into sublime delight.

When music’s enchantment reigns, speaking of the sacred word, magnificence takes form. The night and the tempest turns to light: Outer peace and inner bliss reign o’er the fortunate ones. All art in the spring’s sun lets light flow from both.

Greatness, once it has pierced the heart, then blooms anew in all its beauty. Once one’s being has taken flight, a choir of spirits resounds in response. Accept then, you beautiful souls, joyously the gifts of high art. When love and strength are united, divine grace is bestowed upon Man. [Translation from Wikipedia]

How amazing that back in 1808 Beethoven spoke of the power of music to elevate grace and to bring people together, just as we keep rediscovering today.

I have arranged Choral Fantasy for EASY and INTERMEDIATE piano, and put them all together for you, as a theme with variations. The first page is the main theme as sung by the choir and is fairly EASY; page 2 is a variation on the theme as played by the clarinets, and it is INTERMEDIATE; and page 3 is a variation on the theme as played by the violins and it is also INTERMEDIATE. I took the melodies, harmonies and chords directly from the orchestral score.

The double bars on each page indicate that you can end the piece there, if the successive pages feel too difficult to play (you can try playing them again next year!)

Click DOWNLOAD (below) to print Choral Fantasy (finale):

You can also print the gorgeous Sonata Pathetique Adagio (intermediate) arrangement I posted here two years ago:

To print more free sheet music including Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, please visit my website!

If you are joining us for the first time, welcome! My name is Gaili Schoen and I post free sheet music at the beginning of each month, arranged for EASY and INTERMEDIATE piano. I also post practice tips, worksheets and flashcards – just take a look at the archives to the right of this post. The free sheet music I post on my website is only available for a year, but when I offer downloads like the ones above, they stay put.

I also love to write music books. I have created a set of piano instruction books called Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul, as well as an easy-to-learn and brain-enhancing format for younger adults called Piano Powered, all available on Amazon. But mostly I like the idea of creating community here on my blog, arranging free piano music, and supporting adults who are taking piano lessons. Please subscribe above if you would like to be notified of my monthly free sheet music and practice tips. I never spam or share email addresses, ever.

I hope you are enjoying the holiday season, and that you will tip your hat and play a tune to the magnificent Beethoven, one of the greatest and most influential composers of all time.

Please leave a comment below and tell us what you are playing, or what issues related to piano lessons you might like to see me address in the future. I’d love to hear from you!

With love and music, Gaili