100 years of Martinů: Sonata in C major

Michael Crump began the series entitled "100 years of Martinů", dedicated to works written or first performed one hundred years ago, with an overview of the Little Dance Suite, H 123. This time, we publish a text on Sonata in C major, H 120 by Aleš Březina, director of the Bohuslav Martinů Institute. 

100 years of the Sonata in C major
Aleš Březina

Martinů regarded his first two sonatas for violin and piano as juvenilia and did not officially acknowledge them. Whilst the expansive four-movement Sonata in C major (H 120, Prague 1919) is an interesting piece of composition, it is nonetheless an imitative work that points quite openly to its model, Franck's Sonata in A major. It is characterized by "Faustian" subject matter and internally by the scarcity and disparateness of its themes. The second movement is an attempt at a "demonic" scherzo indebted to the aesthetic of the late 19th century, its theme being a reminder of the Dies irae sequence so favored by various composers of that time, among them Berlioz, Liszt, and Mahler. His fully chroma¬tic musical material drives Martinů on to ever greater heroic heights, which at the close are eventually "redeemed" by the "purgatorial" Maestoso and by the subsequent Grandioso in C major.