An Insight into Beethoven, Funtington Music Group

Funtington Music Group’s guest on 14th January was Roy Stratford, who undertook the daunting task of helping us understand better the very difficult final compositions of Beethoven.

A genius ahead of his time and in later life beset by deafness and social isolation, Beethoven’s later compositions are not easily accessible to the amateur listener, but Roy, clearly relishing his task, set about this formidable challenge with huge enthusiasm and energy.

One of the pleasures of Roy Stratfield’s delivery is that he has a broad fund of knowledge which he shares with much humour, demonstrating his thoughts with illustrations from the keyboard. His main theme was the final three piano sonatas, and in the first half he showed us how Beethoven changed the traditional architecture of the sonata into something very different, explaining in part why the listener finds them so challenging. However, despite these changes some fundamental elements of sonata form are still present, and Roy helped us to hear these as well.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

After the interval we were treated to a concert performance of Sonata in A flat major, Opus 110, and with the benefit of Roy’s wisdom in the first half, we were all able to understand the work a great deal better. We were also highly appreciative of the skill of our guest, not only as a fine teacher, but also in overcoming the significant technical demands of the piece to provide us with a most moving performance.

New members are always welcome at Funtington Music Group. For full details of our monthly meetings contact our Membership Secretary on 01243 378900 or visit

John Palmer