The keyboard sonatas of Haydn and Mozart Essay

This essay has a total of 1079 words and 5 pages.

The keyboard sonatas of Haydn and Mozart

I. Haydn
Haydn has a special preference for writing music in a bundle of six. Each of the six
pieces has its individuality while sharing many common features at the same time. Haydn's
solo keyboard sonatas show striking diversity in type and style. They often could be
categorized by their style periods and each of them reflects a corresponding social

Sonatas composed from 1773 to 1784 were intended as "public" works from the very
beginning, with a clear conception of the taste, preferences, and instruments available to
the musical public of Vienna. The Sonata in F Major, Hob. XVI: 23; L38 written in 1773 for
solo harpsichord is the best known and most virtuosic of his set of six sonatas (Hob. XVI:
21-6). Haydn wrote the six sonatas for Prince Nicklaus Esterhazy and they strictly follow
the court-style. Sonata in F has three movements: Allegro moderato, Adagio (Larghetto) and
Presto. The contrasting tempo and the fast motion between the fingers allow the player to
give a virtuoso impression without acquiring over-demanding technique. In the opening
movement, demanding 32nd-note passages create an improvisatory flavor. Haydn intentionally
inserted a sequence of diminished 7th chords to make an unusual tonal appearance. The
unique middle movement in F minor portrays a Baroque flavor. The finale is well-organized
and filled with contrapuntal passages.

Nearly a decade later, Haydn wrote another six three-movement sonatas named the
Auenbrugger sonatas. The composer himself had become acquainted with some talented
Viennese amateur musicians. The Sonata in G Major, Hob. XVI: 29; L 52 was written in 1780
and with the rest of the set was dedicated to the Auenbrugger sisters. Although the sonata
piece is in Haydn's usual three movement style, he has secretly added in a number of new
ingredients in each movement. The sonata begins with the Allegro con brio with
lighthearted rondo variations. The most interesting aspect of this movements is that Haydn
intentionally returned to the theme of the Sonata in C-sharp Minor, Hob. XVI: 36. However,
the new movement includes two independent episodes, one in the tonic and the other in its
relative minor. The Adagio movement is rich in ornamentation. A written-out cadenza is
designed to for the trio. The finale Prestissimo returns to sonata form in a rocking 6/8
meter which is rare with Haydn. Overall, the sonata has shown a new Haydn who was
interested in experimenting and non-repetitive from his previous works.

II. Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had endless ideas for writing piano sonatas and like his other
works, his sonata style has evolved dramatically over the years. His early works have been
constantly compared with other well-known composers at the time. For example, it has been
suggested that Haydn's F Major Sonata, Hob. XVI: 23 as a model for Mozart's K. 280 in the
same key.

The C Major Sonata, K. 309 was written on November 8, 1777 for the fifteen-year-old Rosa
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