One of the hardest Beethoven sonatas is his Appasionata Sonata. There is one technique that I know it has in common with Chopin's Octave Etude. That is legato octaves. Difference has to do with frequency of leaps. In the Octave Etude, especially the Allegro sections, it is mostly stepwise motion between the octaves. In the Appasionata sonata, it is often a leap of a third between octaves.

Here is the Octave Etude:

So you can see how I view it as preparation for the Appasionata Sonata. But will this etude help me prepare for one of Beethoven's hardest sonatas?

2 Answers 2


Octave technique plays only a small part in the Appassionata. Its technical difficulties are more in the areas of passagework and rotation. Its legato octave passages are much easier than the Chopin etude. As such, the etude makes no sense to me as preparation.

  • But in the Chopin etude, those octaves are usually by step. It is quite often by third in the sonata. And I know that the distance between 2 octaves makes a big difference in the difficulty of getting it legato or even if it is possible without the pedal. By step and it will be possible without the pedal. By third or bigger and the legato becomes much harder and pretty much impossible without the pedal unless you have like Rachmaninoff size hands. A lot of the leaps in the Octave etude are between slurs.
    – Caters
    Mar 4, 2019 at 5:22
  • 1
    I think you are overestimating the difficulty of the octave theme in the Appassionata. If you have a small hand, binding the theme with the outer fingers and helping out with a quarter pedal is fine. It is nothing next to the other difficulties you will face.
    – user48353
    Mar 4, 2019 at 5:27

In several earlier questions, like this, this, and this you seem to be obsessing about playing all the notes ultra-legato with your fingers only.

This is completely the wrong approach to any piano music, beyond the absolute beginner stage.

The octaves in the first movement of the Appassionata are easy - you just open up your shoulders and swing your arm at them. The fortissimo full chords (bar 16 or thereabouts) are not much harder. You are never going to emulate Beethoven's habit of breaking piano strings if you try to play them "legato, with your fingers". And if you don't play Beethoven the way he played it, what's the point?

Some other passages in the sonatas, such as the tremolos, are much more tiring to play.

The Chopin octave etude is much harder, and needs a different technique (which hadn't even been invented yet in Beethoven's time). It's irrelevant for playing the Appassionata.

  • Just so you know you have 2 links to the same question about the alberti bass in Mozart's K 545 second movement. I suppose with the third link you were meaning to link my question having to do with Piano Sonata no. 1 in F minor which has wide stretch legato in the question title.
    – Caters
    Mar 4, 2019 at 20:23
  • Except that playing all the notes ultra-legato without pedal or with barely any pedal are often necessary in some repertoire or on some piano, because using the pedal enables sympathetic vibration of all strings in the piano, which results in a slightly muddier sound.
    – Divide1918
    Nov 12, 2021 at 14:24

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