Three Sonatas, Opus 2 (1793)

by Johann Nepomuk Hummel

(born November 14, 1778 in Bratislava, Slovakia

died October 17, 1837 in Weimar, Germany)

PREFACE

The title page for this youthful collection exclaims its dedication quite boldly (in French) "Three Sonatas for the Piano Forte (sic) or Harpsichord with Accompaniment of Flute or Violin, and Cello, Composed and Dedicated to Her Majesty the Queen of England by Jean Hummel of Vienna, Age 14 Years. Opus 2 Vienna––printed and sold by the composer, on the third floor of #437 in the Salzgries."

The teenage Hummel was already well-known to public and royal audiences in Vienna and London as a child prodigy on the fortepiano. At age 7 he impressed Mozart enough for the master to invite him to study and live with him for two years. After Mozart’s two-year tutelage, Hummel’s father arranged a long concert tour for his son throughout Western Europe which culminated in a four-year sojourn in London where he studied with Clementi. He began composing works almost as soon as he began playing. These three early sonatas were evidently written just after young Hummel finally returned home to Vienna in 1793. Subsequently, Hummel studied with Albrechtsberger (Beethoven’s teacher), Haydn, and Salieri in Vienna.

Hummel’s extraordinary facility on the piano made him a natural improviser. In fact, he rivaled Beethoven in that regard. His compositional style is firmly rooted in the Classic period, but contains Romantic flourishes of virtuoso passagework inspired by his innate keyboard talent. He embraced the musical conventions of his time and exploited them to their fullest potential but started no musical revolutions, unlike Beethoven. Although his melodic gift was not as great as Mozart’s, he nonetheless should be respected for harnassing virtuosity for musical ends. As Charles Rosen has stated in The Classical Style, "Both the loose melodic structure and the reliance on figuration for tension are characteristic of the early Romantic style, as in the concertos of Hummel and Chopin." Thus, his virtuosity actually intensifies the musical discourse. It does not weaken it. Hummel exerted a great influence through his virtuosity on the generation that followed him, both via his playing and his teaching. Among his famous students were pianist-composers Hiller, Henselt, Thalberg, and Czerny (Liszt’s teacher). His legacy therefore was to inspire the four great composers born in the early 1810s: Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, and Liszt. One can hear Hummel’s influence in their respective early infatuations with virtuosity (especially evident in Chopin’s two early piano concertos).

The conflicting influences of Baroque and Classic styles in Hummel’s early studies with Mozart and Clementi can easily be seen in these three early sonatas from 1793. Those two masters would certainly have given Hummel a healthy dose of "old" works by Baroque composers to study in addition to learning "new" Classic music. First, the sonatas’ title page indicates that they may be played on either the "new" (Classic) fortepiano or the "old" (Baroque) harpsichord. (Hummel calls it a clavecin in French.) Secondly, many articulation marks and ornamentation figures in the original self-published edition are holdovers from the Baroque period, but the overall musical language is decidedly Classic. In the slow movements there is a striking similarity to the work of Mozart and to C.P.E. Bach, an innovative composer who helped bridge the two stylistic worlds of the Baroque and Classic. (Hummel was 10 years old when C.P.E. Bach died.) And, in the outer movements Mozart and Clementi’s stamp is obvious as well. These are immature works, as one would expect of a teenager (except for Mozart), but they are full of enthusiasm and elegance.

All three sonatas follow the standard three-movement Classic stucture: sonata-allegro first movement, slow middle movement, and rondo final movement. Hummel often injects a minor mode section of contrasting material in the middle and final movements. The first of the three sonatas is a trio in B-flat Major scored for flute or violin, cello and piano or harpsichord. The second sonata is a duo in G Major for flute or violin and piano or harpsichord. The third sonata is a solo piano (or harpsichord) sonata in C Major. This new Kalmus edition is taken directly from the original edition that Hummel published himself. (The engraver, Johann Schäfer of Vienna, shows the date of publication as 1794 at the bottom of the first page of the original edition.) The musical notation has been modernized, especially in terms of accidentals and articulation. There is no consistent usage of pizzicato wedges and staccato dots in the original edition, thus I have chosen to make all such indications staccatos. Turns, trills, and mordents have frequently been written out where the presence of those symbols makes it difficult to determine how they should be played. A few markings have been added or changed for the sake of conformity in recurrences of identical phrasing and articulation. In the piano score I have also suggested some redistributions of notes between the hands in order to make certain complicated passages easier to play. These are marked with brackets and/or hand indications (L.H., R.H.). I have also added fingerings to the piano score.

Richard Dowling, D.M.A.

New York, January 2003

 

Critical Commentary

Sonata in B-flat Major, Op. 2 No. 1

for flute or violin, cello and piano or harpsichord

Hummel published eight piano trios during his lifetime. This first trio from 1793 already shows an important facet of his understanding of the dynamics of chamber music. Despite his enormous keyboard proficiency, Hummel recognized that the keyboard’s roll in chamber music was that of a partner, not a concerto soloist. The original title of these Opus 2 sonatas does give the keyboard a prominent position, describing the instrumental parts as "accompaniments." However, there is a great stylistic difference between the first two instrumental sonatas and the third solo keyboard sonata. Hummel intuitively restricts and reduces his keyboard writing so as not to completely overshadow the instrumental parts. The emphasis is still very much on the keyboard part of course. (Hummel began his musical training on the violin, but soon switched to the piano.) But he did recognize the need for balance, and thus restrained himself accordingly.

Allegro measures 1-2 & 122-3 piano part:

Rondo measure 45 piano part:

The appoggiaturas found in these measures were originally printed as grace notes (with slash marks). In keeping with Classic tradition, they should be played on the beat as sixteenth notes.

Allegro measures 27, 40, 50, 159, & 169 piano part:

Rondo measures 9-10, 78, 81, 83-84, 129-130, 148-149, 181, 183, & 192 piano part:

The original edition shows these chords with diagonal slashes through them (but no roll indication). This is a Baroque indication for an acciaccatura (or in French, arpègement figuré) which calls for the playing of a dissonant tone within an arpeggiated chord (rolled chord). C.P.E. Bach describes its method of execution with printed musical examples in his comprehensive and well-respected 1753 treatise, Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments. Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven endorsed this manual wholeheartedly and instructed their students to study it carefully. Hummel would most certainly have learned from it. These acciaccaturas have been written out here for performing ease. Do not hold the dissonant passing tone––it should not be tied along with the principal notes of the chord. It may be advisable to play these on a modern piano as simple rolled chords without the added dissonance, since the resonance of a modern piano is greater than that of a harpsichord or fortepiano. I leave that choice to the pianist’s discretion, as suited to the instrument used for performance.

Rondo measures 37-38 flute/violin and piano parts:

The original flute/violin notation was F and E-natural sixteenth notes. These would result in perfect fourths and tritones with the piano’s notation. I have altered the flute/violin part to make a more palatable realization.

 

 

 

Rondo measure 118 flute/violin and piano parts:

The original flute/violin notation was three F-sharp eighth notes, the second of which conflicts with the piano’s G minor chord. I have altered the flute/violin part to F-sharp, G, F-sharp to suit the piano’s harmony.

Richard Dowling, D.M.A.

New York, January 2003

Critical Commentary

Sonata in G Major, Op. 2 No. 2

for flute or violin, and piano or harpsichord

Hummel wrote six violin sonatas during his lifetime. (He began his musical training on the violin, but soon switched to the piano.) Of these six, two sonatas Op. 5 Nos. 1 and 2 are written specifically for the violin. Three of the other four sonatas (Op. 2 No. 2, Op. 50, and Op. 64) are for flute or violin. Op. 37a is a sonata for mandolin or violin. This first sonata from 1793 already shows an important facet of his understanding of the dynamics of chamber music. Despite his enormous keyboard proficiency, Hummel recognized that the keyboard’s roll in chamber music was that of a partner, not a concerto soloist. The original title of these Opus 2 sonatas does give the keyboard a prominent position, describing the instrumental parts as "accompaniments." However, there is a great stylistic difference between the first two instrumental sonatas and the third solo keyboard sonata. Hummel intuitively restricts and reduces his keyboard writing so as not to completely overshadow the instrumental parts. The emphasis is still very much on the keyboard part of course. But he did recognize the need for balance, and thus restrained himself accordingly.

The first movement’s tempo marking, Allegro (moderato), is a combination of those found in the flute/violin part (Allegro moderato) and the piano part (Allegro).

Allegro (moderato)

Measure 48 piano part:

The original edition shows all A-sharps in the left hand. I have added a natural sign in parentheses to the final A to improve the harmonic progression. A natural sign on the final C in the right hand is also permissible, but has not been included.

Measures 81-82 (and equivalent measures 189-190) piano part:

The cadence of the A7 chord to D Major chord was originally written with the seventh (G) resolving to the third (F-sharp) in the bass. This spacing probably sounded fine on Hummel’s fortepiano or harpsichord, but with the resonance of the modern piano it does not work well. I have moved the seventh and third to the tenor voice of the right hand.

Measure 102 piano part:

The original edition lacks a sharp on the A in the right hand. I have added it to lead more naturally into the following measure.

Measures 123-124 piano part:

The original edition shows these chords with diagonal slashes through them (but no roll indication). This is a Baroque indication for an acciaccatura (or in French, arpègement figuré) which calls for the playing of a dissonant tone within an arpeggiated chord (rolled chord). C.P.E. Bach describes its method of execution with printed musical examples in his comprehensive and well-respected 1753 treatise, Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments. Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven endorsed this manual wholeheartedly and instructed their students to study it carefully. Hummel would most certainly have learned from it. These acciaccaturas have been written out here for performing ease. Do not hold the dissonant passing tone––it should not be tied along with the principal notes of the chord. It may be advisable to play these on a modern piano as simple rolled chords without the added dissonance, since the resonance of a modern piano is greater than that of a harpsichord or fortepiano. I leave that choice to the pianist’s discretion, as suited to the instrument used for performance.

Romance – Poco andante

Measure 27 piano part:

An F-sharp has been added to the D7 chord on the final beat to complete the harmony. It does not appear in the original edition.

Measures 37, 71 flute/violin part

Measure 75 piano part:

The appoggiaturas found in these measures were originally printed as grace notes (with slash marks). In keeping with Classic tradition, they should be played on the beat as sixteenth notes.

Measure 40 piano part:

The G in the right hand is not tied in the original edition, but is appropriate when playing on a modern piano.

Rondo – Allegro

Measures 55-56 piano part:

The diminuendo indication does not appear in the original edition but seems logical in the context of the piano marking that follows in measure 57.

Measures 147, 149, 151 & 153 flute/violin part:

Measures 147 & 149 piano part:

Sharps have inadvertently been left off of the Gs of both parts in the original edition. (However, they do appear in measures 151 and 153 of the piano part.) I have added sharps to the Es of the flute/violin part in parentheses. They do not appear in the original edition but make harmonic sense with the piano’s C-sharps.

Richard Dowling, D.M.A.

New York, January 2003

Critical Commentary

Sonata in C Major, Op. 2 No. 3

for piano or harpsichord

Hummel published six solo piano sonatas that reflect his developing compositional style and the musical changes of taste in the early nineteenth century. These comprise Op. 2 No. 3, Op. 13, Op. 20, Op. 38, Op. 81, and Op. 106. Three additional sonatas without opus numbers are attributed to Hummel and appear in an old Litolff edition, but their authenticity remains in doubt.

This first solo piano sonata clearly shows the influence of Hummel’s training with Clementi and Mozart. The opening broken octaves of the Allegro spiritoso serve not only as a melodic motive, but also as an inspiration for virtuosic display. Much of the first movement contains broken octave passagework. The development section explores a variety of keys, and is pianistically similar to Beethoven’s style (the cadenza of his third piano concerto in particular).

The spiritual influence of Mozart’s slow movements (especially those of piano sonatas K. 310, 332, and 333) is quite evident in this Adagio. Hummel’s extraordinarily florid and fluid passagework sounds like written-out improvisations in the style of a cadenza. In fact, there appear to be "too many" notes in measure 27. In the original edition, the 64th-note passage in the right hand is printed as four 32nds followed by eight 64ths. This does not work musically and I have adjusted the rhythm and added a final sixteenth-note rest in order to make the music more symmetrical (and playable). The ornamentation throughout the movement is excessive, as though he were trying to employ every trick he had learned from his teachers. Play the movement with a great deal of freedom so that the ornaments are musical, but retain a strong inner pulse at the same time. The appoggiaturas found in measures 15 and 19 were originally printed as grace notes (with slash marks). In keeping with Classic tradition, they should be played on the beat as sixteenth notes (c.f. measure 78 in the Rondo). The broken octaves of the Allegro spiritoso reappear in the middle section in a new lyrical guise.

The theme of the third movement Rondo is practically plagiarized from Mozart’s rondo of the K. 311 sonata. (Call it youthful emulation.) The form is actually a modified rondo and contains a contrasting section in C minor with new thematic material. In measures 4 and 63 the C major chords in the left hand have diagonal slashes through them (but no roll indication) in the original edition. This is a Baroque indication for an acciaccatura (or in French, arpègement figuré) which calls for the playing of a dissonant tone within an arpeggiated chord (rolled chord). C.P.E. Bach describes its method of execution with printed musical examples in his comprehensive and well-respected 1753 treatise, Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments. Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven endorsed this manual wholeheartedly and instructed their students to study it carefully. Hummel would most certainly have learned from it. These acciaccaturas have been written out here for performing ease. Do not hold the dissonant passing tone––it should not be tied along with the principal notes of the chord. It may be advisable to play these on a modern piano as simple rolled chords without the added dissonance, since the resonance of a modern piano is greater than that of a harpsichord or fortepiano. I leave that choice to the pianist’s discretion, as suited to the instrument used for performance.

The broken octave passagework from the first movement makes brief appearances again at measures 25-26 and 153-154. The fermata on the G7 chord in measure 186 suggests the possibility of a short improvised cadenza before return of the rondo theme. Although there is not any direction in the original edition, the sensible way to perform measures 194-202 is to cross hands (as in Domenico Scarlatti’s sonatas). Appropriate L.H. and R.H. designations thus appear in parentheses.

The metronome markings for all three movements are editorial suggestions. They do not appear in the original edition.

Richard Dowling, D.M.A.

New York, January 2003