General information
Title CZSonáta pro klavír
Title ENSonata for Piano
Title DESonate für Klavier
Title FRSonate pour piano
CategoryWorks for Keyboards
Halbreich number350
Parts of the composition (movements)1. Poco allegro; 2. Moderato (Poco andante); 3. Adagio - Poco allegro
Dedicatee Serkin, Rudolf
Diplomatic transcription of the dedicationÀ Rudolf | Serkin
Place of compositionNice
Year of origin1954
Initiation of composition26.11.1954
Completion of composition17.12.1954
First performance
Performer Eliška Nováková
Nováková, Eliška
Date of the first performance1957-12-03
Location of the first performanceBrno
Autograph deposition
InstitutionBohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička
Deposition locationPolička
OwnerBohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička
Note on the autograph depostitionReproductions of the autograph are held by the Paul Sacher Stiftung in Basel and in the archive of the Éditions Max Eschig in Paris.
CopyrightÉditions Max Eschig, Paris
Purchase linkbuy
References Related correspondence
Documents in the Library
Note Title on the title page of the autograph: "Sonata N° I. | for piano." *** Rudolf Serkin performed the American premiere only one day after the world premiere, on 4 December 1957 in New York. *** The premiere might have been preceded by a unofficial performance of the piece by Rudolf Serkin in Düsseldorf as suggested in Erik Entwistle, "Form and Fantasy in Martinů's Piano Sonata", in: Michael Beckermann (ed.), "Martinů's mysterious accident: Essays in memory of Michael Henderson" (Hillsdale, N.Y.: Pendragon Press, 2007), s.117–135.
About the composition

Among all of piano compositions by Bohuslav Martinů, which consists of dozens of pieces, we can find only one Sonata for piano, H 350. Martinů composed it in 1954 for Rudolf Serkin, professor of piano at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Martinů promised him a sonata but took a long time to write it, and once he delivered it, Professor Serkin kept postponing its performance. Therefore the sonata premiered in Brno on December 3, 1957, performed by Eliška Nováková, the wife of Martinů's student Jan Novák. However, its premiere preceded that by Rodelf Serkin merely for one day since he performed this composition on December 4, 1957 in New York.

Martinů composed this sonata in November and December 1954 in Nice within the creative spell of Fantaisies symphoniques, H 343 (Symphony No. 6) and Incantation, H 358 (Piano Concerto No. 4). Like these compositions, Sonata for Piano has a fantasy character. Despite the free wheeling defile of musical ideas in all three movements, we can find a three-part formal structure in each of them. The main thematic idea comes back in a transformed way and closes the given movement. The harmonic structure moves within extended tonality above all in the third movement, while polytonal planes will find their firm root in the relevant tonic chord. This sonata rich in thought, profound and technically demanding represents one of the peaks of Bohuslav Martinů's piano compositions.

Sandra Bergmannová, programme of the Bohuslav Martinů Festival's concert, December 11, 2000

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