Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 26 in E-flat major, Op. 81a, known as the Les Adieux sonata, was written during the years 1809 and 1810.
The title Les Adieux implies a programmatic nature. The French attack on Vienna, led by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1809, forced Beethoven's patron, Archduke Rudolph, to leave the city. Yet, there is some uncertainty about this nature of the piece — or at least, about the degree to which Beethoven wished this programmatic nature would be known. He titled the three movements "Lebewohl," "Abwesenheit," and "Wiedersehen," and reportedly regarded the French "Adieux" (said to whole assemblies or cities) as a poor translation of the feeling of the German "Lebewohl" (said heartfully to a single person) (Kolodin, 1975). Indeed, Beethoven had written the syllables "Le-be-wohl" over the first three chords.
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