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Thread: Long sonatina vs Short sonata

  1. #1

    Default Long sonatina vs Short sonata

    I have seen long sonatinas though I don't remember one.

    I have seen short sonatas. Mozart's first piano sonata is extremely short, much shorter than his more famous Sonata Semplice AKA Piano Sonata K 545.

    In fact, I am not so sure it should be called a sonata. It is definitely not in sonata form(no recapitulation as far as I can tell).

    Here is what I am talking about:

    I think a more appropriate name would be Suite no. 1. But no, it is Piano Sonata no. 1.

    So why is this considered a sonata? It is super short and it is not in sonata form.

    I am not even sure that Sonatina no. 1 is appropriate because again, it is not in sonata form.

    I can understand why Violin Sonata no. 1(Mozart's very first sonata) is a sonata. It is in sonata form and there is a definite recapitulation in the first movement.

    And how could you tell if a piece in sonata form that is like Piano Sonata no. 1 in terms of length is a long sonatina or a short sonata? Those 2 overlap so some sonatinas are more like sonatas and some sonatas are more like sonatinas.

  2. #2
    a restless spirit Jerome's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    From Cape Town, South Africa


    Now I am completely confused.
    'The purpose of life is a life of purpose' - Athena Orchard.

  3. #3
    Casual member bob_32_116's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Perth WA Australia


    I used to know all this stuff...

    I know that "sonata form" is a well defined form for a musical composition, though I cannot now recall just what that form is. I do remember my piano teacher saying that many pieces that are not called sonatas are in fact in sonata form. This was considered important in the Classical period apparently.

    As for the difference between sonata and sonatina, I always assumed that "sonatina" was just a short sonata, but maybe I'm wrong. It could be like trying to decide when a story is too long to be called a novella and becomes a novel.

  4. #4


    Yeah but sonata form is called that because most classical period sonatas are in this form no matter who composed it, what kind of sonata it is, the length, number of movements, etc. But this piano sonata not being in sonata form and composed by Mozart is an odd combination. If anyone composed sonatas that weren't in sonata form, I would have thought it was Beethoven since he was 1 major expander of classical music. I mean Mozart might have written the first sonata but symphonies and concertos were already there during the Baroque period as were most other types of pieces that Mozart wrote so while he did expand it, he didn't do it nearly as much as Beethoven.

    And I do believe that sonata form has 2 layers, 1 sonata layer and 1 movement layer. The sonata layer would basically be all the movements of the sonata(or symphony or concerto since these tend to also be in sonata form. In fact, a symphony is basically an orchestral sonata) and the normal sequence(3 movements, Allegro, Slow, Rondo, 4 movements, Allegro, Slow, Minuet, Rondo, 5 movements, not sure) The movement layer would be all the different parts of the movements. This is usually very prominent in the Allegro movement where you have exposition, development, and recapitulation.

    Since there is no obvious recapitulation in the first movement, I would say that Mozart's first piano sonata is not in sonata form. But this is odd for Mozart's time, especially considering that almost all his sonatas and all his symphonies and concertos are in sonata form.

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