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Moonlight Sonata for Guitar

Updated on August 25, 2011

Moonlight Sonata Played on Classical Guitar

Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata (Piano Sonata No. 14 in C# Minor) is one of the most popular pieces in the classical piano repertoire. As a guitarist who enjoys the piano, I love the transcriptions of Beethoven's music played on the classical guitar. Listen to this incredibly complex and beautiful version played below.

Recommended Recordings of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata on Guitar

After seeing this YouTube video, and finding free sheet music, I became interested in anyone had recorded this piece. While I own dozens of guitar CDs myself, I had never seen this piece recorded. The album the Most Romantic Classical Music in the Universe has a version of Moonlight Sonata for Guitar.

Intense Third Movement

Most people know this piece for its tranquil first movement. They are surprised to learn that the Third movement of the Moonlight Sonata is one of the most intense, difficult pieces in the entire piano repertoire! Can you imagine how difficult it is to play this on guitar?

Can the Third Movement be Played on Guitar?

We have to ask: can this movement be played on the guitar at all? The answer is Yes! It took quite a lot of research, but I found a few recordings.

The first is an arrangement of the piece for Guitar Trio. This recording is by the California Guitar Trio, and is available on their album "Pathways". See Track 12, "Presto Agitato, Moonlight Sonata".

But can it played solo?

If a trio can play it, can the piece be played by a solo guitarist? For the longest time I thought that it was impossible. Then someone showed me that the Guitarist Gary Rodriguez had done just that! Amazingly he plays the entire piece by himself.

Learning to Play Moonlight Sonata on the Guitar

While I'm actively taking classical guitar lessons and practicing regularly there are a few key resources to play this piece. I'd download the sheet music and the tab for Moonlight Sonata. Then I'd practice it like crazy. I love hearing other people's version of this song. I'd love it if you would record yourself playing it and then post it to youtube with a link in the comments here.

Tab Sheet Introduction to Moonlight Sonata for Guitar

|-----0-----0-|-----0-----0-|------0-----0-|------0-----0-|
|---2-----2---|---2-----2---|----2-----2---|----2-----2---|
|-1-----1-----|-1-----1-----|-1------1-----|-1------1-----|
|-------------|-------------|--------------|--------------|
|-------------|-------------|-2------------|-2------------|
|-------------|-------------|--------------|--------------|
 

|------0------0-|------2-----2-|---------------|---------------|
|----2------2---|----3-----3---|----4-7----4-7-|------5------4-|
|-2------2------|-2------2-----|-5------5------|----5------5---|
|---------------|-0------------|-4------4------|-4------4------|
|-0-------------|--------0-----|--------6------|-6------6------|
|--------0------|--------------|-4-------------|-4-------------| 

Compare the piano version to the guitar

Poll

Do you like how Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata sounds on guitar?

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    • David 470 profile image

      David 470 6 years ago from Pennsylvania, United States

      Being a fan of rock/metal music. I like hearing old classical music as well. Moonlight Sonata is awesome. It has a very strange resonating scary tone to it, at least when I listen to it.

      I believe that song has been used in numerous movies over the decades.

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 6 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      I had to click on this hub, because I had never heard Moonlight Sonata on guitar either! It sounds wonderful. I agree with David that it has a very strange resonating sound, but it doesn't scare me. I find it ethereal. Thanks for fanning me- it gave me the pleasure of this lovely piece.

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Thanks for sharing this beautiful music. I intend to check out your other Hubs as well.

    • Joe Macho profile image

      Zach 5 years ago from Colorado

      Sure is a nice song. I've been meaning to learn the guitar for years now. Maybe I'll use your hub to learn the Sonata. Thanks for the hub.

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thanks for sharing...I play this piece at the piano; I gave a recital where I played the last movement...

      Interesting hub

    • profile image

      Derdriu 5 years ago

      Ari Lamstein, What an enchanting, lilting, melodious version of the Beethoven classic "Moonlight Sonata"! In particular, you do a great job of identifying the challenges in transcription and in solo let alone trio performance.

      Thank you, voted up + all,

      Derdriu

    • jamila sahar profile image

      jamila sahar 5 years ago

      very interesting ! i will pass this on to some guitar teachers who may have students interested in playing beethovens opus 27 no 2 on the guitar. such an incredible work was this sonata, it certainly has stood the test of time. i am new to hub pages, and my first hub was on this very same sonata ' the moonlight' as it is called, however i inadvertently tried to change the title of the hub as they complained it was not in english, then when i changed the title, they complained and said it is a duplicate hub and unpublished it ! (sigh) so i am still trying to stay motivated and write more hubs. if you are interested in reading some more about this sonata you can now read my original hub on wordpress. http://theuniversallanguageofmusicic.wordpress.com...

    • profile image

      Eapen 5 years ago

      Have you listened to the Moonlight Sonata, 3rd mov. played by Dr.Viossy on electric guitar, just awesome. I dream to play like that one day. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZuSaudKc68

    • Ari Lamstein profile image
      Author

      Ari Lamstein 5 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      @Eapen: Great link!

    • profile image

      Bernd Gast 5 years ago

      I want to recommend my new guitar arrangement of the "Moonlight Sonata".

      You ca see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detail...

      Hope you enjoy! Feel free to comment!

      Best Regards from Germany

      Bernd Gast

    • Ari Lamstein profile image
      Author

      Ari Lamstein 5 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Thanks for the link Bernd! That's some really great playing.

    • profile image

      sccanseco 4 years ago

      As beautiful on guitar as on piano....loved this awesome Hub!

    • profile image

      gepeTooRs 14 months ago

      Excellent post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed! Very useful information specially the last part I care for such info much. I was looking for this certain information for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

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