CHAPTER XI - THE MIDDLE STAGE OF “SONATA” FORM  pp. 255-272

THE MIDDLE STAGE OF “SONATA” FORM

By C. Hubert H. Parry

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The principles upon which self-dependent instrumental music was being developed in the greater part of the eighteenth century were quite new to mankind. Before men developed the capacity for understanding the classification of harmony in connection with certain tonal centres, such principles were altogether inconceivable. But when once the idea of harmonic centralisation was well established, progress in readiness to grasp the artistic purpose of the composer in disposing his groups of harmony so as to convey the impression of design, was extraordinarily rapid; as may be judged by the difference in obviousness between a concerto of Vivaldi's and a symphony of Mozart's.

It may be admitted, parenthetically, that there was a considerable falling off of style in instrumental music when it came more decisively under operatic influences. The standard of Tartini and his fellow-violinists is much higher than that of most of their successors; who infused the fashionable style of opera music into their instrumental works, to gratify the feeble taste of their fashionable pupils. But the development of the great branch of instrumental music did not follow in a straight line from Corelli and Tartini and such masters, but was the result of a process of filtration through the minds of all sorts and conditions of composers. Haydn and Mozart, and Beethoven in his turn, were in their younger days influenced by the flood of all sorts of music which came under their notice.