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K. Kemova

Unknown piano duet repertoire: The sonatas by Franz Seydelmann

At present the attention of concert piano duos is increasingly drawn to the little known repertoire for piano four hands, which makes it relevant to carry out its classification and theoretical analysis. Six sonatas by Franz Seydelmann, composed in Dresden in 1781, belong to unfairly forgotten pieces for piano four hands. They are one of the earliest examples of four hands sonatas and have been highly praised by some researchers, who, however, have not provided a thorough analysis. These facts account for the necessity to subject the works to scientific analysis taking into account the historical context and the evolution of the genre of sonata for piano four hands. The tasks of the present paper are the following: to trace the creative path of Seydelmann, to describe the European context around the appearance of the first four hands sonatas and Seydelmann’s sonatas in this milieu, as well as to provide an extended music analysis of the sonatas with special attention to structural and textural features which reflect the specific nature of the works of the period under investigation. The research relies on the historical and analytical methods.

The present investigation revealed the historical importance of the sonatas by Seydelmann, which, as well as the other early four hand sonatas of the time, represent a creative experiment. The analysis yielded a number of specific features that make the sonatas in question different from their contemporaries: the use of a minuet and polonaise as the second or final movement in the sonata cycle, the use of a polyphonic cycle in place of the last sonata in the collection under analysis, polyphonic intentions of texture characterized by the absence of doubling voices and the rhythmic and intonation individuality of each voice.

The attempt to fill in the theoretical gap in regard to Seydelmann’s sonatas which represent an individual approach to the genre by their unique combination of musical characteristic features, makes it possible to view piano duet in the 18th century as a multi-polar phenomenon.

Key words

F. Seydelmann, ensemble playing, piano duet, piano sonata for duo in four hands, sonata cycle, sonata form, duo texture.

For citation

Kemova K. Unknown piano duet repertoire: The sonatas by Franz Seydelmann // South-Russian musical anthology. 2021. No. 1. Pp. 95–103.