"Don't tell me I've grown accustomed to that face."
Schroeder. Beethoven. Ah the names are practically synonymous. If you
ever followed the Peanuts series by Charles Schultz you will certainly
know Schroeder's obsession with the great composer. And when the cartoon
strip made its way to the animated features in the late 60s, you not only
were able to imagine Schroeder playing his Beloved Beethoven, but you
were now able to hear him as well.
Over the years, both in the strip and in the animated series, Charles Schultz
has Schroeder playing a good number of Beethoven works. The ones featured
in the strip are:
Piano Sonata in F Minor, Opus 2, no. 1
Piano Sonata in A Major, Opus 2, no. 2
Piano Sonata in C Minor, Opus 10, no. 1
Piano Sonata in F Major, Opus 10, no. 2
Piano Sonata in C in Minor, Opus 13 ("Pathétique")
Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, Opus 22
Piano Sonata quasi una fantasia, C-sharp Minor, Opus 27, no. 2 ("Moonlight")
Piano Sonata in D Major, Opus 28
Piano Sonata in G Minor, Opus 49, no. 2
Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, Opus 106 ("Hammerklavier")
Piano Sonata in A-flat Major, Opus 110
Bagatelle in G Minor, Opus 119, no. 1
Ecossaise in E-flat Major, WoO 83, no. 2
Ecossaise in E-flat Major, WoO 83, no. 6
"Für Elise," WoO 59 [Source]
Some of these were included in the animated version as well, with
Schroeder playing them at his toy piano (and let's not get into the
topic of how a toy piano with only about two octaves could play
those works). But the one I remember most, the one I always associate
with the features, was the Sonata in C Op. 2 No. 3. that was
featured prominently on Play It Again, Charlie Brown (1971).
As you can tell from the above list this piece must have been new for
the animated version.
I love the first movement of the C major Sonata — really the first of
the three sonatas in the Op. 2 group where Beethoven lets himself
loose a little. Nevertheless it is sort of ironic then that the opening
Allegro con brio is one of the most tightly controlled movements I
can remember hearing in "The 32." It is perfectly seamless. One thing
flows into the next in the most logical manner imaginable. It is bright,
powerful, and bold.
The Beethoven on Play It Again, Charlie Brown was performed by Lillian
Steuber, who as a pianist played with the likes of violinist Jascha Heifetz
and whose students include Betty Mallard and Daniel Pollack. Steuber
died in 1977.
Here's a little Alfred Brendel playing the same work.