Premiere Performance: 12/3/2005 - Senior Composition Recital - Duquesne University - Pittsburgh, PA
I fondly remember as a young boy playing Sonatinas by Muzio Clementi. It wasn’t until my second semester of my undergraduate studies that I was reintroduced to Clementi’s piano music and became intrigued by the piece compositionally. Clementi’s compositions for piano often follow the most important principle of musical form, or formal type, from the Classical period well into the 20th century—the sonata form. A piece that utilizes the sonata-form consists of three main sections with a two-part tonal structure. The first part of a movement that utilizes the sonata-form is called the “exposition.” The second part of the structure is comprised of two sections, the “development” and the “recapitulation.” The exposition divides into two groups—the first one in the tonic and a second group in another key, most often the dominant as with my piece. Both the first and second groups include any number of different ideas. The musical idea in the first group is referred to as the primary theme. The musical idea in the second group is referred to as the secondary theme, whether or not it actually is the second important musical idea or not. The development acquires material from the exposition and is typically in the key of the dominant. The last part of the development prepares for the recapitulation modulating back to the tonic. The recapitulation begins with a return to the main theme. It then restates most or all of the significant material from the exposition, but the secondary theme is now in the key of the tonic. The movement concludes either with a cadence in the tonic paralleling the end of the exposition, or in the case of my composition, it concludes with a coda following the recapitulation.
The second movement, Andante, models after the minuet, or French dance. This movement is in a moderate triple meter. Historically, minuets were one of the most popular social dances in aristocratic society from the mid-17th century to late 18th. It was used as an optional movement in Baroque suites. The minuet also appears in the multi-movement form of the sonata. Minuets are usually paired with a Trio or Scherzo. In my composition, however, I did not include the Scherzo movement.
The last movement models after the rondo-form. The rondo is one of the most fundamental designs in music. Its structure consists of a series of sections, the first of which (the main section or ritornello) recurs in the home key. The subsidiary sections (couplets or episodes) travel out side of the tonal center—in my piece, the relative minor—before returning finally to conclude, or round off, the composition (ABACA).