by Christopher Fulkerson
This piece, my Opus One, is about twenty one minutes long, and was completed in its first version in 1974. I myself gave this version its first performance at my Senior Composition Recital at the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music in 1976. Forty years after this Sonata's first version was written, I revisited this piece in 2014 and gave it a thorough revision, which involved extensive development and expansion of the piece, especially of its finale, resulting in a twofold increase in work's overall duration. The Sonata's three movements are:
1. Maestoso scorrevole
The first movement is in a variant of Sonata form, which I had studied extensively, especially in the Beethoven String Quartets; thanks to Professor George Nemeth, my Undergraduate Musicology Advisor, I knew most of them before graduating. The Charles Rosen study The Classical Style had recently been published, and I read this book, not least because it was dedicated to Helen and Elliott Carter. The enormity of the significance of Rosen's book was not in the slightest lost on me. I knew I was reading real progress in the the history of the articulation of understanding about the art of music and read the book carefully. I date the beginning of my real understanding of composition from my reading of Charles Rosen's book, arguably, and as I believe, the single most important book ever published about music. I also studied the music of Bela Bartok in my Composition adviser Dan Beckler's encyclopaedic class about his music (I was a double major), and had gone over Hindemith Mathis der Maler Symphony and many neo-Classical pieces, as well as the occasional Harris or Schuman symphony. I felt I was ready to attempt an actual piano sonata. I was however unaware that the opening idea of my Sonata resembled that of Beethoven's Bagatelle Opus 33, #7. Discovering this fact only recently, I would now suggest that the Beethoven might make a good recital companion to my Sonata, especially if the Beethoven were played first. The slow movement of my Sonata is in Ternary form, and the Finale is a massive fugue, with some spiritual resemblances to the fugues Beethoven wrote in his fifties. The cyclic relationship between the second and third movements existed in the earliest version of the Sonata.
Writing and playing this piece was a milestone for me; the know-nothing would-be guitar-playing Rocker in garage bands who, in High School, never once played a single song through with another person before attending college actually did a serious composition recital and played his own Piano Sonata. An inspection of the program will reveal that the renowned Wagnerian Soprano Linda Watson sang in the chorus which I (and not as published my roommate Steven Skinner) conducted on the program. However, none of my professors attended my recital.
First posted 1/11/2010. Last Updated 10/12/2014.