Beethoven composed the piano trio in D, Op 70 “Ghost” in 1808, when he was nearly completely deaf and clearly in a mystical mood. The trio is dubbed “the Ghost Sonata” because of its strangely scored and undeniably eerie-sounding slow movement. The name has stuck with the work ever since. The ghostly music may have had its roots in sketches for aMacbeth opera that Beethoven was contemplating at the time. In truth however, the Ghost Trio was so named by Czerny because the second movement reminded him of Hamlet’s Ghost in Shakespeare.
Jacqueline du Pré, cello
Pinchas Zukerman, violin
Daniel Barenboim, piano
Beethoven – Piano Trio No. 5 “The Ghost” – Second Movement (2/2)
Based on this composition, August Strindberg wrote a play “Ghost Sonata” The play relates the adventures of a young student, who idealizes the lives of the inhabitants of a stylish apartment building in Stockholm. He makes the acquaintance of the mysterious Jacob Hummel, who helps him to find his way into the apartment, only to find that it is a nest of betrayal and sickness. The world, the student learns, is hell and human beings must suffer to achieve salvation.
Ghosts are what we fear and dread. But they do not have substance, they are not real. It is us who create ghosts and keep them alive.