The link between Billy Joel’s “This Night” and Beethoven’s “Sonata Pathétique”

What does Billy Joel’s song “This Night” have to do with the Beethoven’s classical piece Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Opus 13 commonly known as Sonata Pathétique ?

Interestingly, the chorus of Billy Joel’s song which was released in 1983 as part of the An Innocent Man album is based on the second movement of Beethoven’s classical piece which was written in 1798 and published in 1799. In fact, Beethoven is credited as one of the song’s writers on the sleeve of the album as “L.V. Beethoven”. 1, 2

Billy Joel combined the rhythm and blues/soul/doo-wop style that was popular during his teen years with the enchanting second movement of one of Beethoven’s most celebrated compositions. The result is a masterful blend of awesome that only two geniuses collaborating two centuries apart can come up with.

Compare the Billy Joel chorus here:

and the second movement of Sonata Pathétique Second Movement Adagio cantabile (4:58)

Billy Joel’s performance of this song at the Wembley Stadium in 1984 can be viewed here 

.

The full video of Ukranian-American classical pianist Valentina Lisitsa’s performance of the Beethoven sonata can be viewed here 

.


See also: Never Underestimate an Old Man who Listens to Dire Straits


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This Night (Album Version)

Valentina Lisitsa at the Royal Albert Hall

Sonata Pathetique Sheet Music

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Billy Joel: The Definitive Biography

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1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Innocent_Man
2 http://www.allmusic.com/album/an-innocent-man-mw0000190510

3 thoughts on “The link between Billy Joel’s “This Night” and Beethoven’s “Sonata Pathétique”

  1. Thanks. I’d never heard the Joel song and so glad he reference LV. In the 60s and 70s, I believe this occurred quite a bit. I remember All By Myself by Eric Carmen which has a passage from a Rachmaninov piano concerto around 2:56

    Liked by 1 person

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