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The piano sonata during the classical period

Bring fact-checked results to the top of your browser search. The Classical era and later By about 1770 most of the specific changes that dictated the shift from Baroque sonata to Classical sonata were firmly established.

In the new three-movement pattern, a minuet sometimes replaced the fast, abstract finale. In other cases, the inclusion of both minuet and finale brought the number of movements back to four.

The south German Mannheim school of composers —most notably Johann Wenzel Stamitz and his son Karl —developed the technique of the orchestrawhose resources now provided an ideal laboratory for experimentation with the dramatic effects of tonal contrast. By this time the Classical sonata proper i. The Rococo style of the mid-18th century, generally known as style galant, had attained a halfway stage in which counterpoint had been virtually dropped and tunes had occupied the forefront of interest.

But now, in the mature Classical style of Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozartsuperficial melodic interest was in turn subordinated. In this style the value of tunes lay in their role as functions of tonality. Key by this time had assumed a central role as the fundamental articulator of form.

As a corollarymusical themes were often, though not always, reduced to the status of mere motivesor tags. Unlike Haydn, Mozart was at his greatest in the fields of opera and of the solo concerto. The latter, though it shared with sonata form such elements as the central principle of key contrast, was a medium that evolved, through the Baroque concerto grossofrom the fundamentally different source of the solo vocal aria and the vocal-instrumental concerto.

  • The development of the classical style and its norms of composition formed the basis for much of the music theory of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries;
  • Other musical approaches use metre and instrumental tone colour to mark important musical points much as traditional sonata form used contrast of keys;
  • During the Classical period roughly 1750-1810 the harpsichord had been largely replaced by the piano.

But in the last six symphonies, the last 10 string quartets, about a dozen keyboard sonatas, and several trios, quartets, quintets, and serenadesMozart achieved outstanding examples of sonata structures. He also frequently set slow movements in keys only distantly related to the key of the first movement. Mozart preferred strongly differentiated themes, and he often reshaped his second subjects drastically when they reappeared in the recapitulation. Beethoven, in his sonata-form compositions preeminently, the 32 piano sonatas, the 16 string quartets, the trios, the 9 symphonies, and the sonatas for violin and for celloretained the basic form, but he vastly extended its scale.

For example, he increased the importance of the codaor concluding section, and used unusual keys in the exposition, which was greatly expanded in length. In his later sonatas and quartets he began to move away from the dualistic sonata principle and back to the monistic approach exemplified in variation form and fugue.

  1. Composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were employed by wealthy parents to teach their children, and many great pieces were written in an attempt to help the aristocracy master these new skills of playing the piano.
  2. This gives rise to expansive compositions held together by complex interrelationships between themes. They argued that transient chords and events are less significant than movement between certain crucial underlying chords.
  3. Piano sonatas have been written throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and up to the present day.

The case of Franz Schubert is quite different. The first movement of the Symphony No.

Piano in the Classical Period

This device enables Schubert to place the second theme in the tonic key the goal of the recapitulation without altering the transition between the two themes; for the same passage that, in the exposition, took the music from the tonic to the dominant serves, in the recapitulation, to take it from the subdominant to the tonic. This essentially labour-saving procedure is evidence of a certain lack of patience with the workings of sonata form as hitherto practiced.

Rather, it was a principle of composition that grew out of earlier forms and that can be generalized from an examination of the actual work of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and their contemporaries.

  1. The tendency toward fusion—that is, toward thematic unity between movements—was the source of the thematic transformations used in symphonic poems , such as those of Franz Liszt , as a basic principle of musical structure.
  2. Mozart 's sonatas would also be primarily in three movements. In the transition from the Baroque to the Classical period, the term sonata underwent a change in usage, from being applied to many different kinds of small instrumental work to being more specifically applied to chamber music genres with either a solo instrument, or a solo instrument with piano.
  3. Instrumentation In the Baroque music period, a sonata was composed for one or more instruments almost always with a figured bass or continuo. The first subject is in the tonic key.
  4. Some common factors which were pointed to include. William Newman also notes, however, that these codifications were in response to a growing understanding that the eighteenth century did have a formal organization of music.

His later sonata-form compositions in all instrumental genres—when they follow the rough traditional scheme of exposition, development, and recapitulation—modify it substantially. He frequently expanded the number of tonal centres central keys in the exposition, and sometimes also the number of basic themes, from two to three.

This tendency toward expansion affects the whole subsequent course of the Austro-German symphonic tradition. It is the direct ancestor of the expositions of Anton Brucknerwith their three distinct thematic groups, and of the vastly extended sonata structures of Gustav Mahler. This was a departure from the abstract, or plotless, character of the Classical sonata. The tendency toward fusion—that is, toward thematic unity between movements—was the source of the thematic transformations used in symphonic poemssuch as those of Franz Lisztas a basic principle of musical structure.

But in these works the program rather than any abstract musical form suggests the particular course of the transformation of the themes. For this reason their specific form does not depend, as did that of the Classical sonata, on the exposition—development—recapitulation principle of contrast, conflict, and reconciliation of keys. In this work he used a single extended movement with subdivisions analogous to the sections of sonata form. But the specific use of his four themes, which are transformed and combined in free fashion, departs from the usual order of the Classical sonata.

Robert Schumann likewise experimented fruitfully, especially in the piano sonata during the classical period Symphony No. Johannes Brahmson the other hand, carried the more familiar Classical sonata form to its highest point of complexity.

In addition to making valuable innovations in rhythmic structure, he gave the role of counterpoint a new lease of vigour and interest and used the concept of thematic relationships between movements in a particularly subtle way.

Piano sonata

Similarly, the sonata compositions of Carl Maria von Weber and Felix Mendelssohnwhich generally followed the patterns of their Classical predecessors and were highly regarded in their day, contributed little to the evolution of sonata form away from its Classical state. This evolution, illustrated by the works of Berlioz and Liszt, was carried forward by Mahler.

In his symphonies, expansion—achieved through inclusion of more than two tonal centres and groups of themes—is combined with greater unity between movements. This gives rise to expansive compositions held together by complex interrelationships between themes.

Arnold Schoenbergin such works as his String Quartet No. Two important 19th-century developments tended to weaken the effectiveness of the Classical sonata form as an organizing principle.

One, exemplified by Richard Wagnerwas an increasing use of chromaticism ; that is, of notes and chords foreign to the key in which a passage of music is written.

Chromaticism, the piano sonata during the classical period used extensively, broke down key feeling. Secondly, Liszt and his followers weakened the sonata form by using in their symphonic poems musical organizations based on program rather than on contrast of keys. But although the effectiveness of key as a basis for musical organization had been weakened by the late 19th century, Mahler and Carl Nielsen provided a modification of the sonata form that made use of tonality in a new way.

This innovationprogressive tonalityused the home key as a goal to be worked toward from more or less distant key regions, so that a work ends in a different key from the one in which it began. Mahler and Nielsen arrived at the same the piano sonata during the classical period independently at the same time. Frequently, because the effectiveness of key or tonality has been weakened, such compositions centre on melody without the strong contrast of tonality that underlay the Classical sonata.

Some composers made stylistic compromises. In this work he fits the 12-tone style into the outlines of sonata form. The result is based on contrasting themes, rather than on the Classical sonata principle of key contrast, because 12-tone musicbeing atonaldeliberately avoids the creation of a sense of key. In a comparable way, though in the context of a different style, some of the sonatas of Sergey Prokofiev use the outward formal divisions of the Classical sonata form but stress the interest of melody as such, leaving tonality—still present in this case—to play a decorative rather than a structural role.

New principles of musical form Other modern composers developed new principles of musical form. Although these principles appear in genres traditionally associated with the sonata, such as instrumental sonatas, string quartetsand orchestral works, they vary in the degree to which they are or are not related to the Classical sonata form. One of the more useful of such principles has been the technique of constructing large-scale compositions from transformations and developments of a single germinal motiveoften merely two or three notes.

The symphonies of Jean Sibelius are based on this method. So are those of Ralph Vaughan Williamswho also used some of the features of sonata form but imaginatively reshaped them and transformed their proportions to suit his purpose. In the nonsonata works of Schoenberg and his pupils Alban Berg and Anton Webernthe 12-tone method produced legitimate new forms of the highest historical importance; but when forced into an uncomfortable liaison with earlier schemes of organization such as the sonata, its effectiveness diminished.

Paul Hindemith contributed copiously to the sonata medium with works for almost every known instrument, but as far as the form was concerned his innovations were of minor significance.

Sir Michael Tippett in his Symphony No. Other musical approaches use metre and instrumental tone colour to mark important musical points much as traditional sonata form used contrast of keys.

The sonata in the Classical period

Carter also used the idea of sharply differentiating the musical subject matter given to the individual instruments of an ensemble—a resource found earlier in the String Quartet No. Music in the latter half of the 20th century was too various in form, medium, esthetic attitude, and social function to allow any confident predictions. But all these examples suggest that the sonata, and its special manifestationthe sonata form, still provide composers with fertile areas of activity.

As in the time of HaydnMozartand Beethovensuccess will continue to reward those who develop musical forms that grow naturally from the specific principles of composition used in their works, much as the sonata form grew out of the principle of contrast, conflict, and resolution of tonalities that characterized the sonatas, symphonies, and chamber music of the 18th and 19th centuries.