What is a Sonata

Sonata can be described as the method of arranging different pieces of music to follow a pattern of four musical movements such as Allegro, Largo, Minuet or Scherzo, and Finale. However, this description was used in the Classical era and not in the Baroque or Romantic era. It definition may sound vague as it developed through different eras and performed in various era. However, it gain grandness in the classical era and reached new heights. It become the principle arrangement for large scale composition.

Evolution of sonata through different musical eras!

the description of sonata varied with eras and in the Baroque era sonata was played on solos such as violin or keyboard and for instruments used in groups. Arcangelo Corelli was a renowned musician of the Baroque era and he was the first one to differentiate sonata in two distinct classes. Domenico Scarlatti produced around 500 compositions and all his works showed distinct use of sonata. Later on  Domenico Paradies produced diversified version of sonatas in the Baroque era.

Classical era proved to be critical for the advancement of sonata. Joseph Haydn produced many sonata during the 18th century. Sonata got a historical pattern in the form the three movements in sonatas

  • Allegro: It describes the tempo and is known the development of theme
  • Largo or Adagio: The slow movement in the middle of the piece
  • Finale: the closing movement of the piece and was also called Rondo or Minuet.

 Haydn frequently implemented two layered movements in his sonatas whereas Mozart applied three layered movements in his sonatas. In the classical era, musicians use to follow the three layered movements but later Sonata was reprise in four movement form which included Allegro, Largo, Finale but an additional dance movement in the middle of Largo and Finale. This middle movement was named Minuet and was renamed Scherzo in the later part of the classical era. Beethoven 9th symphony shows four movement layout sonata. Beethoven is popularly known as the father of the four movement layout sonatas.

Sonata after the classical era!

The use of sonatas went on to reach new heights as they were used in large scale concerts. Many famous works were produced in the Romantic Period. The most famous work were produced by single piano sonatas of Frederic Chopin, Felix Mendelssohn, Franz Liszt, and Robert Schumann sonatas.

After the end of Romantic Period, the use of sonatas diminished with time. However, a revamped version of sonatas can be seen in operas and in plays as well. Pierre Boulez and Elliott Carter have produced neo-classical sonatas but the sonatas is not used in any popular music genres at present. 

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