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#512477 - 09/06/01 03:16 AM form of a sonata
Anita Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/06/01
Posts: 24
Loc: California, USA
hello everyone,
I am new here. I just found this website last night. I was so happy to find this forum that I have read quite a number of old messages posted since last night. I think it's a very informative place, lots of my questions about the piano and playing have been answered here \:\)

I need some help. Could anyone please tell me the structure/form of a piano sonata. how is a sonata is constructed? thanks.
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#512478 - 09/06/01 10:13 AM Re: form of a sonata
Matt G. Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/01
Posts: 3789
Loc: Plainfield, IL
That's quite a question there, Anita! The Sonata itself has undergone many changes, been subject to altered definitions, and been practically reinvented since the term was first used in the 18th century.

Because of the favor of the form among skilled composers of the late 18th to mid 19th centuries, there were a large number of sonatas written during that period. it may make the most sense to discuss the general characteristics of the sonata from that time. Of course, we'll have to stick to generalizations here.

The sonata of the Classical era is usually a multi-movement work consisting of three or four movements. I tend to think of them as sandwiches: a fast movement at the beginning and end with contrasting fillings between.

The most popular choice for the first movement was in 'sonata allegro' form (a discussion best left for another time). Popular choices for the final movement were in rondo or sonata allegro form. The first and last movements are generally in the same key as each other.

Earlier sonatas usually include as the second movement a minuet and trio in a key related to the first and last movements, often the minor or relative minor of the original key. Later sonatas generally include two middle movements, one of which is frequently in a very slow tempo. (I'm reminded of one Beethoven sonata that has a Funeral March!)

Hope this answers your question!
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#512479 - 09/06/01 10:45 PM Re: form of a sonata
jgoo Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/23/01
Posts: 3974
Loc: Seattle, Washington, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Matt G.:
Later sonatas generally include two middle movements, one of which is frequently in a very slow tempo. (I'm reminded of one Beethoven sonata that has a Funeral March!)

Hope this answers your question![/b]


Really? I knew that Chopin had a sonata with a funeral march but I didn't know that Beethoven had one as well. What opus number is it? I would like to hear it.

As for sonata form, that is a tough question to answer. Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata had three movements. In order, they are: an Adagio, an Allergretto, and a Presto. The first and third movements are long with a short middle movement. I don't know if this is standard sonata form or a form the Beethoven used just for this sonata. I would have to know more on the subject.
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#512480 - 09/06/01 10:49 PM Re: form of a sonata
jgoo Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/23/01
Posts: 3974
Loc: Seattle, Washington, USA
Try looking it up at http://musicnet.chandra.ac.th/eng/mus_dic.htm it may be there or it may not. If it isn't, there are a lot of other things that you can look up here. It is an online dictionary of musical terms and musical forms.
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#512481 - 09/07/01 01:04 AM Re: form of a sonata
yok Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/01
Posts: 464
Loc: New Zealand
Beethoven's Funeral March sonata is in A flat, Op 26. (No.12, I think). It is unconventional in that it has a Theme and Variations 1st movt rather than a sonata movt. The Scherzo is also very brilliant, and has some tricky double thirds work. The Funeral March slow movt is tremendously dramatic. The finale is a sort of perpetuum mobile which is a lot of fun to play. It's a fine piece, but I imagine it would be quite hard to draw all its elements together effectively - I've never played it all in one whole.

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#512482 - 09/08/01 07:25 PM Re: form of a sonata
Joe Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/27/01
Posts: 86
Loc: New Jersey
There is a really good book you can read on the subject called The Classical Style, by Charles Rosen. If you read it you'll reallize what a difficult question it is that you just asked \:\)

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