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JOSEF ANTONÍN ŠTĚPÁN – THREE SONATAS FOR HARPSICHORD
E flat major, B flat major, A major

  SHEET MUSIC 09     9790706567006     released 5/2017     

sheet music for harpsichord (or fortepiano) – 64 pages, A4 high
Critical edition prepared by Petra Žďárská.


     Josef Antonín Štěpán / Joseph Anton Steffan (1726–1797) was an important figure in Viennese musical life of the eighteenth century. His works influenced a large number of his contemporaries, including Joseph Haydn (1732–1809), Jan Křtitel Vaňhal (1739–1813), Leopold Koželuh (1747–1818), and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). His compositional procedures departed from period conventions: a number of his sonatas and concertos for keyboard instruments begin with a slow introduction to an opening fast movement; he experimented with one-movement forms (sonatas, capriccios); in 1778 he published the very first collection of German songs with piano accompaniment in Vienna. The foundation for his music is his detailed knowledge of counterpoint and thoroughbass practice, and he draws on influences from Italian music and the gallant style. In his late works, he even arrives at a Pre-Romantic style. It is incomprehensible that he has nearly been forgotten in spite of his fame in his own day...

...Josef Antonín Štěpán was one of the pioneers the Classical sonata. At first, his sonatas still bore the character of suites, with the use of closely related keys, varying numbers of movements and inserted dances, and plentiful ornamentation. We increasingly find sonata features not only in his first movements, but also in his slow movements and minuets. Štěpán uses contrasting themes; his secondary themes often become the conceptual centerpieces of expositions. The recapitulations avoid literal repetition and playfully change the themes’ melodies, articulation, and harmonies. In his finales, he frequently employs the rondo form, which he combines with other forms (e.g. variations). But his experiments do not stop there; in his Sonata in G Major (PicŠ. 13), listed in Breitkopf ’s catalogue in 1763, Štěpán first uses a slow introduction. At that time, the sonatas of his contemporaries were not yet beginning in this manner. Štěpán’s later works are characterized by frequent tempo, agogic, and dynamic changes in connection with a quicker alternation of moods, and also hybrid forms (combinations of sonata forms, variations, and rondos).

     (from the foreword)

   

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