Sonata, musical composition for one or more instruments. In the classical sense, the term refers to a work for piano solo or for a string or spiritual instrument with a piano, consisting of several independent parts. The plan of the composite multi-part sonata and the restriction in the use of the term to only solo works were formed in the second half of the 18th century.
The word “sonata” is often also used in the term “sonata form”: in this case it refers not to a multi-part work, but to the formal structure of one part of the sonata. The sonata form is also found in symphonies, concerts, trios, quartets, quintets, even in overtures, etc.
The word “sonata” is derived from the Italian verb “sonara” – “to sound.”
For the first time so began to call their works the Spanish composers of the XVI century. Early sonatas were polyphonic, for example trio sonatas for 3 instruments – violins (or flutes), violas and gamba and harpsichord. When the homophonic style replaced the polyphonic style (the main voice with a bright melody began to play a leading role, and the others acquired an accompanying, accompanying character), the sonata for a solo instrument with accompaniment, primarily for the violin, gained priority. In the XVII-XVIII centuries. the largest Italian composers – J. Vitali, J. Tartini, A. Corelli, A. Vivaldi, compose the violin sonatas. The keyboard instrument performed a purely accompanying function in them.
G.F. Handel and especially I.S. Bach are already creating sonatas for a keyboard instrument. By this time, the sonata took shape as a multi-part instrumental piece with a rich imaginative and emotional content. The most typical was the order of the parts: slowly – quickly – slowly – quickly. The first part most often had an improvisational-introductory character; the third, slow, was built on the rhythms of saraband or Sicilian – Spanish and Italian folk dances.
Since the end of the XVIII century. the piano sonata comes to the fore in importance. The piano replaced the harpsichord and brought with it all the richness of the shades of a loud and quiet playing; it was capable of both swift fluency and orchestral thunder. All these qualities manifested themselves with particular force in the piano sonatas of L. Beethoven, although his predecessors, J. Haydn, V.A. Mozart, M. Clementi, did a lot in this direction. Beethoven gave the sonatas a symphonic scope, scale (“Aurora”, “Appassionata”). Sonata is one of the main genres of chamber-instrumental music. It exists not only as a genre, but also as a form. The sonata form is one of the most developed forms of instrumental music. It is typical of the first parts of the sonata-symphonic cycle (this concept includes sonatas, symphonies, quartets and many other large works;).
Romantic composers F. Schubert, R. Schumann, F. Chopin, F. Liszt, I. Brahms in their sonatas in a new way revealed the restless, rebellious, changeable inner world of man.
Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms developed significantly in sonata-duet for solo instrument (violin, cello, clarinet, horn) and piano.
The largest number of sonatas is written in 3 parts, but there are two-part and four-part sonatas. The first part of the sonata was usually written in sonata form, but sometimes in its place you can find the form of variations (Mozart, Beethoven). The second part is slow, it was written either in sonata form, but without development, or in a complex three-part; the third (minuet, scherzo) – in a complex three-part, and the quick finale – in the form of rondo, rondo-sonata, less often – variations. In the Chopin sonatas, the slow part and the scherzo exchange places. Liszt creates one-part sonatas such as a musical poem (Sonata “After Reading Dante”). They are based on a very widely developed sonata form with many themes, their transformations and contrasting episodes.
In Russian music, the piano sonata reaches its peak in the late XIX – early XX centuries. (P.I. Tchaikovsky, S.V. Rachmaninov, A.N. Scriabin, N.K. Metner). Sonatas for various instruments were created by Soviet composers S. S. Prokofiev, N. Ya. Myaskovsky, A. N. Alexandrov, D. D. Shostakovich, A. I. Khachaturian, D. B. Kabalevsky, M. S. Vainberg, R. K. Shchedrin and others. The musical language, the principles of construction, and the content in them become more and more complex and diverse.
Sonata Genre Features
If you compare the sonata with the literary genre, then the most suitable comparison with the novel or story. Like them, the sonata is divided into several “chapters” – parts. Usually there are three or four. Like a novel or a tale, a sonata is populated by various “heroes”: musical themes. These topics do not just follow one after another, but interact, influence each other, and sometimes come into conflict.
The greatest tension and severity is the first part of the sonata. Therefore, it has developed its own, special form, which is called sonata.
The development of music built in sonata form can be compared with action in a dramatic play.