Viennese Mid-17th Century Solo Violin Sonatas in the Genre’s History


This article challenges the idea that there was an only trend in the style development of the solo violin sonata in Central Europe during the second half of the 17th century, which is prevalent among contemporary studies of the genre’s history. Careful analysis has proven there to be two lines. Composers representing the first (Biber, Walter, Döbel, Muffat, etc.) carried on the traditions of their Italian predecessors. The resulting sonatas are distinguished by improvisational sections on static bass, polyphonic writing, the propensity towards sequential presentation of the material, and preference for the standard instrumental figures. At the same time, sonatas of two prominent Viennese masters — Bertali and Schmelzer — are a special phenomenon, which we consider as the second line. They are characterized by expressive melodic writing, homophonic texture, rich harmonies in the bass lines that have a great influence on the compositions as a whole, motivic elaboration, combinations of different instrumental techniques, and quickly changing said techniques. Viennese sonatas never received any further direct development, but they are of great artistic value given the current tendencies in the modern performance practice of early music.