While studying the 2nd movement of Beethoven's Sonata Op.90, I found these appoggiaturas in bars 28-29.

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This is the Henle edition (which I find to be one of the most reliable editions for Beethoven); the appoggiatura can also be found in the 1815 first edition (see here).

Based on my knowledge, I thought the two bars would have to be played like this

enter image description here

but in all major intepretations I listened to, the F and A are played as acciaccaturas respectively on the E and G (here is an example).
Does anyone know why everyone performs it as an acciaccatura? How did Beethoven intend the two embellishments?

  • I've always gone by the rule that, once Mozart moved to Vienna, all appoggiatura are written out and little notes are always acciaccatura (though occasionally played as a very short note on the beat instead of before). Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 22:58

2 Answers 2


The Print Evidence (a.k.a. nobody agrees)

Editions that indicate an undecorated (no stroke) grace note

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First edition mm. 28-29

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Editions that indicate a decorated (with stroke) grace note

Gesamtausgabe mm. 28-29

Schnabel edition mm. 28-29

Editions that clearly agree with you

  • Cooper1

Cooper edition measures 28-29

The Recorded Evidence (a.k.a. everybody agrees)

"everybody" plays the grace note before the beat (or near simultaneous with the beat)

NOTE: All recordings are from YouTube and are timed to the measures in question.

Conclusion: IMO

The performance of the ornament would seem to be a matter of tradition as much as anything else. Though I think we have to pay deference to the fact that all of these great performers, spanning a century, agree with each other that the grace notes precede the beat.

I prefer to play it the way you indicate. Playing an acciaccatura, or playing an appogiatura that precedes the beat, tends to make m. 28 beat 4 sound like a downbeat. I find the meter and melody much more clear and flowing when the ornaments are played as 32nd notes on the beat.




In early music up to the baroque are the spelling n the decorations seldom uniform and regional and different for different composers. This also applies to the classic and leads to that e.g. cannot always make a clear decision whether a proposal should be long or short. Times are short suggestions as sixteenths, sometimes as eight el with flag crossed out or, depending from the time signature, also notated as a thirty-second note t, long suggestions often as eighth notes, occasionally off he also as a quarter. It is important to know that the crossed flag is not “as short as possible ”means, but with 16th is to be equated because it is nothing more than an old one notation for the 16th.



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