The Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53, also known as the Waldstein, is considered to be one of Beethoven's greatest piano sonatas, as well as one of the three particularly notable sonatas of his middle period (the other two being the Appassionata sonata, Op. 57, and Les Adieux, Op. 81a). The sonata was completed in the summer of 1804. The work has a scope that surpasses Beethoven's previous piano sonatas, and is notably one of his most technically challenging compositions. In particular, section A of the Rondo requires the performer to simultaneously play a pedal tone trill and a high melody line, with rapid runs on the left hand. Furthermore, the coda section of the Rondo contains the musically wondrous but highly difficult glissando octaves, written in dialogue between the hands. Many advanced amateur performers may choose to play a simplified version of this passage, as it is technically much more demanding to play on the modern piano (with its heavier action) than it would have been on Beethoven's 19th Century instrument. The "Waldstein" sonata is a key work early in his 'Heroic' decade (1803-1812) which set the stage for piano compositions in the grand manner, in Beethoven's later work and that of future composers.
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