Need help with the notation in Beethovens Pathetique 2nd movement. Bars 20 and 21.How are these played? What notes are played forthe ornamentation.

Bar 20:

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Bar 21:

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  • 7
    You need to post the actual version. Others may differ.
    – Tim
    Jan 26, 2017 at 13:17
  • 2
    It might also help to explain what exactly you're not sure about. Do you need help with the fingering? The timing? Something? The more specific you can be, the better someone will be able to help you. To add these details, click the "edit" link at the bottom left side of your question. Jan 26, 2017 at 13:19
  • @Tim there's only one version of this written by Beethoven (!!) but I can't guess what the OP is referring to. By my counting, there might be a question about the ornaments in bars 20 and 21 of the Adagio Cantabile, but 22 and 23 seem rather unremarkable (and 23 is very simple). If the OP is counting the 10-bar Grave introduction as the first movement and the Allegro molto as the second, bars 22-23 of the Allegro don't seem to have anything special either.
    – user19146
    Jan 26, 2017 at 13:27
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    @alephzero - oh, that Beethoven... but that's pathetic. No, what I thought was that there may be different publications, with different fingerings suggested, etc.
    – Tim
    Jan 26, 2017 at 13:40
  • 1
    I edited the question to add images of what I'm pretty sure are the measures in question (they do have ornaments). Please confirm with an edit or comment whether this is what you're asking about and if so I think you have a good chance to have this re-opened. I was not able to find a duplicate question about turns, but I didn't look too hard. If there is a duplicate, at least there will be an answer there for you. Jan 29, 2017 at 10:10

2 Answers 2


You are going to play something more or less like this - it's called a "turn":

enter image description here

I say "more or less" because ornaments are meant to be tackled rather freely within the duration they have to fill, so these specific durations may be taken with a grain of salt. The up-and-down of the S-curve tells you to go up a step, return, then go down a step and return. Accidentals above or below apply the upper or lower auxiliary note respectively.

Turns can be placed in two places: between a note and its successor, or directly above the note...

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... which produces something like this...

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...(bearing in mind what I said about fairly free execution within the duration of the note - these last two examples are from Wikimedia). The difference is that the turn between the notes starts on the main note; the turn above the note starts on the upper auxiliary.

  • Thank you for your explanation. Just relearning to play at aged 68 doesn't come easy.
    – Ewright
    Jan 30, 2017 at 10:55
  • You're welcome. I'm in my 60s as well. Nothing comes as easily as it did 30-40 years ago. :^D
    – user16935
    Jan 30, 2017 at 13:01

Von Bülow's "instructive edition" (first published 1875, https://imslp.org/wiki/Special:ImagefromIndex/30364/torat) suggests playing the turns a bit faster than @Patrx2, but the general principle is the same.

enter image description here


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