Beethoven’s Top 10 Works


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portrait of Beethoven with "Top Ten" text overlaidWFMT looks back on the eminent composer's most important works. Here is our ranking of Beethoven's top 10 most important compositions.

10. Fidelio

"Fidelio is very important for the history of German opera, adding a political component to the well-worn Rescue Opera plot device while affirming the archetype of the Heroic German Woman. Leonora/Fidelio is one of the best characters in all of opera, and the homoerotic, gender-bending scenarios in which she finds herself due to her disguise is simultaneously very 'Baroque' while feeling of the current Zeitgeist." – Oliver Camacho

9. Piano Sonata No. 14 ("Moonlight")

"The Moonlight Sonata may be a cliché choice, but as a singer, the first movement feels like the best wordless Lied he never wrote. And the Presto agitato still thrills." – Oliver Camacho

8. Violin Concerto

"The Violin Concerto — it's [Beethoven's] only violin concerto... [It is] so powerful and I think recognizable and plainly moving." – Becky Nystedt

7. Piano Sonata No. 8 ("Pathétique")

"The Pathétique sonata is I think Beethoven's best. It's the most cogent, all three movements have banger melodies, and the mood is 'Listen up, world, I might join the 27 Club at any moment!' A solo piece can be personal in a way an orchestral piece can't." – Robbie Ellis

6. "Archduke" Trio in E-flat, Op. 97

5. Piano Concerto No. 4

"The Piano Concerto No. 4 is the best of Beethoven as the poet and the outsider, trying to be understood by society and, like Orpheus, trying to tame a savage society with music that speaks a gentle peace." – Oliver Camacho

4. Piano Sonata No. 29 ("Hammerklavier")

3. Grosse Fuge

"Beethoven's genius was in his development, breaking new ground and instilling new ideas into old forms. The Grosse Fuge is a stellar example of this..." – Estlin Usher

2. Symphony No. 3 (Eroica)

"First place: The Eroica Symphony is probably the biggest single stylistic turning point in Western music... maybe jointly with The Rite of Spring and Kind of Blue. The Eroica is just so thoroughly different from what had come before. Yeah, Beethoven 5 gets all the angsty love, but it was the Eroica that smacked Western European music out of the Classically galant and into the Romantically raw." – Robbie Ellis

1. Symphony No. 9

"It intimidated the crap out of Brahms." – Robbie Ellis

"The Symphony No. 9 went beyond usual symphonic rules to create a new genre of choral symphonies. It also proclaimed its composer's sense of hope and joy even in the face of adversity, and his belief in the brother/sisterhood of all humankind." – Andi Lamoreaux


Missa solemnis; Piano Concerto No. 5; String Quartet No. 15; Triple Concerto; Symphony No. 6 (Pastoral)

What do you think about our ranking? Anything you would have included that we didn't? Let us know your take in the comment section below!