The recapitulation begins on the subdominant…huh?

Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata(Photo:
Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata(Photo:

What are they trying to say?  Unraveling music theory

Exposition…development…recapitulation…dominant key…these musical terms can get in the way for both casual and experienced classical music listeners.  If  those terms make your eyes glaze over, I have found a helpful website for those who like to dig a bit, or are just a bit curious. is the brainchild of Jose Rodriguez Alvira who has been guitar and music theory professor, chairman of the Theory and Composition department and Dean of Academic Affairs at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico, where he now teaches music theory and computer related courses. lets you hear the music while highlighting the passages being played and labeling them.  Rather than go into a lengthy explanation, let me show you what I discovered while researching Beethoven’s Sonata No. 20 in G Major, Op. 49 No. 2.  (  Then, you can explore to your hearts content.

Watch Daniel Barenboim play Beethoven’s Sonata No. 20