What is a sonata? Literally translated, it simply means 'instrumental piece'. It is the epitome of instrumental music, and is certainly the oldest and most enduring form of 'pure' and independent instrumental composition, beginning around 1600 and lasting to the present day. Schmidt-Beste analyses key aspects of the genre including form, scoring and its social context - who composed, played and listened to sonatas? In giving a comprehensive overview of all forms of music which were called 'sonatas' at some point in musical history, this book is more about change than about consistency - an ensemble sonata by Gabrieli appears to share little with a Beethoven sonata, or a trio sonata by Corelli with one of Boulez's piano sonatas, apart from the generic designation. However, common features do emerge, and the look across the centuries - never before addressed in a single-volume survey - opens up new and significant perspectives.
Thomas Schmidt-Beste (University of Wales Bangor)
Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication:
Series: Cambridge Introductions to Music
10 March 2011
Professional and scholarly
Part I. Definitions: 1. Sonata and canzona; 2. Sonata and sinfonia; 3. Sonata and concerto; 4. Sonata and suite/partita; 5. The sonata and free instrumental genres: toccata - ricercar - capriccio - fantasia; Part II. Form: 6. The 'free' sonata in the seventeenth century; 7. Corelli and his legacy; 8. Sonata cycles and 'sonata form' after 1750; 9. Beethoven's sonatas - consummating or transcending Classical form?; 10. The cycle; 11. The sonata after Beethoven; 12. Sonata composition in the twentieth century; Part III. Functions and Aesthetics: 13. Locations and occasions; 14. Target groups: professionals, connoisseurs and amateurs; 15. Learned style; 16. Virtuosity; 17. Sonata form as an aesthetic paradigm; 18. Absolute music? On meaning and programmaticism; Part IV. Scoring and Texture: 19. Developments in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; 20. The paradigm shift of c.1750; 21. The age of the piano sonata; 22. Piano and others; 23. The sonata for unaccompanied solo instrument; 24. The organ sonata; Bibliography.
Reviews for The Sonata
'This book packs a lot in and is highly recommended for the careful reader.' Music Teacher