The finale of the F major sonata can be understood either as a two-part contrapuntal toccata suggested by Tovey, or, as I would argue, as an etude. But the enormous development section launched after an extremely short exposition may, alternatively, remind us of a monothematic sonata in a nascent form. But what is certain, however plausible the interpretation, is the ambiguity of the genre, the very element by which Beethoven has succeeded in extending the “sonata” legacy in the development of the genre.
Apart from its contribution to the overall meaning of the sonata, op.54 also reflects Beethoven’s attitude toward the genre. Presented as neither preeminently “heroic” nor “lyrical”, the F major sonata comes closest to what Rosen had in mind when he said, “the most prestigious form of serious music was Beethoven’s piano sonata.” Once considered a kind of “Hausmusik” (music in the home) confined to the aristocratic salons and amateurs at home, the piano sonata, a genre Beethoven had much to contribute, had come to be regarded as one of the greatest achievements in the