Book Series Studies on Italian Music History, vol. 10

The Early Keyboard Sonata in Italy and Beyond

Rohan H. Stewart-MacDonald (ed)

  • Pages: 334 p.
  • Size:210 x 260 mm
  • Illustrations:141 b/w
  • Language(s):English, Italian
  • Publication Year:2016

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-56801-0
  • Hardback
  • Available

The volume takes as its subject the birth of the keyboard sonata in Italy and its subsequent efflorescence


“Il volume (…) restituisce un vasto affresco delle mu­siche del ‘secolo lungo’ (per usare l’espressio­ne di Webster), permettendo di considerare sotto una nuova luce fenomeni e autori spes­so ritenuti marginali.” (Candida Felici, in Rivista Italiana di Musicologia, LIII, 2018, p. 265)

“In sum, this history of the early keyboard sonata contains much solid and meticulous musicological work, and the most likely audience for the various chapters would be other specialists in the field. A particular strength is the abundance of information contained in the numerous catalogs, tables, and appendices, laying out possible avenues of future inquiry. Others may find the volume valuable as well, as it helps to fill a gaping hole in our understanding of the history of the keyboard sonata, firmly rooting the genre’s origins and development in Italy—the crucible of modern music—and providing the reader with new insights into eighteenth century repertories of keyboard music from composers who were considered quite noteworthy in their day.” (YouYoung Kang, in Notes, March 2019, p. 513)


Rohan H. Stewart-MacDonald studied at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge between 1993 and 2001. Since completing the Ph.D. he has specialised in British music of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, publishing the book "New Perspectives on the Keyboard Sonatas of Muzio Clementi" in 2006. In 2012, with Roberto Illiano, he co-edited and contributed to the multi-author "Jan Ladislav Dussek: A Bohemian Composer «en voyage» through Europe". He is an honorary member of the Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherini.


"The Early Keyboard Sonata in Italy and Beyond" takes as its subject the birth of the keyboard sonata in Italy and its subsequent efflorescence. With a time-frame spanning the mid-seventeenth and late eighteenth centuries the book proceeds outwards from the contributions of Italians Lodovico Giustini (Pistoia), Francesco Geminiani (Lucca, Naples, London), Baldassare Galuppi (Venice), Giovanni Battista Sammartini (Milan) and Domenico Scarlatti, with new insights on the sonata outputs of Germans George Frideric Handel, Johann Ulrich Haffner and Johann Christian Bach. The book employs a mixed methodology, with source studies alternating with analytical investigations, considerations of performance practice and organology. Central themes include the initial coalescence of the keyboard sonata as a genre and the problems of reconciling diversified usages of the term ‘sonata’; the keyboard sonata’s dissemination through contemporary published sources, accessed by an international community of amateur and professional players; the ambiguous distinction, in this period, between composition and arrangement; and the relative status of the keyboard sonata and neighbouring genres. Several chapters will consider the stylistic developments undergone by the keyboard sonata in the middle and later eighteenth century. This will lead to critical re-examination of traditional distinctions between ‘Baroque’ ‘Galant’ and ‘Classical’ keyboard idioms, and most importantly, reconsideration of the traditionally narrated evolution of ‘sonata form’ from the ‘mid-century’ sonata to the ‘high Classical’ of synthesis of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, that understates or otherwise distorts the significance of earlier Italian models. One of the book’s overriding aims is to support and build on recent attempts to counteract the traditional view of an eighteenth century subdivided between ‘Baroque’ and ‘Classical’ eras.


Rohan H. Stewart-MacDonald

The Italian Solo Keyboard Sonata: Origins and Efflorescence

Gregory Barnett
The Early Italian Keyboard Sonata: Origins, Influences, and Disseminations
Andrea Coen
Considerazioni sul linguaggio e sulla prassi esecutiva delle Sonate da cimbalo di piano, e forte […] di Lodovico Giustini da Pistoia in rapporto al pianoforte cristoforiano
Rohan H. Stewart-MacDonald
The Keyboard Sonatas of Baldassare Galuppi: Textures, Topics, and Structural Shapes
Filippo Emanuele Ravizza
Le sonate per clavicembalo di Giovanni Battista Sammartini
Beyond Italy: Dissemination of the Solo Italian Keyboard Sonata during the Late Baroque Period. Stylistic Influences, Publications, Transcriptions and Arrangements
Graham Pont
Handel’s Keyboard Sonatas
Stephen Roe
The Keyboard Sonatas of Johann Christian Bach (1735-1782)
John Irving
An Introduction to Johann Ulrich Haffner’s Œuvres Melées
Rudolf Rasch
Francesco Geminiani’s Harpsichord Sonatas and the Art of Arrangement
Mark Kroll
Con furia: Charles Avison and the Scarlatti Sect in Eighteenth-Century England

Domenico Scarlatti: Matters of Performance Practice and the Assimilation of ‘Spanish’ Elements

Beverly Jerold
The appoggiatura breve in Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonate
Luisa Morales
Understanding Domenico Scarlatti’s ‘Spanish Style’: A New Perspective from Contemporary Practices in Madrid’s Theatre entr’actes

Contributor Biographies
Index of Names