first work that that I am going to discuss is on Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in E
major, op. 109. Beethoven has played a huge role in the composition of piano
sonatas, and this specific sonata is composed during the late period of his
life. This particular sonata reinvents the sonata form, especially through the
introduction of a theme in the last movement which was followed by a set of
The sonatas prior to Beethoven’s
era would usually follow a fast-slow-fast tempo in the three different
movements; which Beethoven totally broke the convention by using differing
tempi markings at the very first movement of the Op. 109 Sonata. The sections
with different tempo possess distinct and contrasting character and mood,
showing a sense of uncertainty on where the direction of the music is going.
However, all the contrasting musical ideas were nicely developed through the
transitions and were tied together nicely at the end of the first movement.
Beethoven’s late period sonatas
also does not strictly follow the sonata form: exposition, development,
transition and recapitulation. This would differ greatly from Mozart’s sonatas.
Beethoven was known for the use and compositional development of motivic ideas
and another style that Beethoven incorporated into his late period sonatas is
the usage of Baroque polyphonic writing. Beethoven’s late period sonatas
especially the last three piano sonatas showed the wide range of musical styles
that Beethoven has experimented throughout his career as a composer but also
gives a sense of unity.
In my opinion, Beethoven’s piano
sonatas greatly portray the development of his compositional style. The piano
sonatas that Beethoven written was crucial in music history as the whole genre
of piano sonatas was given equal importance with other genres such as
symphonies. Mozart and Haydn wrote many piano sonatas as well, but both
composers wrote symphonies which they are also famously known for. It was
Beethoven that developed the genre of piano sonata into such great importance
in music history.
The next work I am going to
discuss would be on Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit. This genre of composition is a
suite, which consists of three movements. Each movement has their own titles and
are derived from poems; which paints a specific story or character. Ravel’s
works are often described as an impressionist style; as his pieces portray
different colours like in a painting.
The genre of the suite can be
traced back to Bach and Handel’s era. The suites composed in the 17th
century and 18th century are often linked to a collection of
movements that are dance-like. It would have movements that are fixed such as
the sarabande, gigue, allemande and the courante. There are also dances that
could be incorporated as an option such as bourree, minuet and etc. More often,
the movements are related to each other.
The genre of suite during the
17th century is very different than Ravel’s idea of a suite. Another
composer that reinvents the idea of a piano suite would be Debussy. One of
Debussy’s famous work is his Suite Bergamasque.