Ernst von Dohnanyi
Violin Sonata in c sharp minor, Op.21
Ernst von Dohnanyi (1877-1960 Ernö Dohnányi in Hungarian) is generally regarded, after Liszt, as Hungary’s most versatile musician. He was active as a concert pianist, composer, conductor and teacher and must be considered one of the chief influences on Hungary’s musical life in the 20th century. Certainly, his chamber music is very fine, with most of it being in the masterwork category. Yet, sadly and inexplicably, it has virtually disappeared from the concert stage. Dohnanyi studied piano and composition in his native Pressburg (Bratislava) before entering the Budapest Academy. His first published work, his Piano Quintet No.1, was championed by no less an authority than Johannes Brahms. Upon graduating in the spring of 1897, Dohnanyi embarked on a dazzling career as a concert artist, often playing in chamber ensembles. Later, he also devoted considerable time to teaching and conducting.
The violin sonata dates from 1912 and is in the tradition of the late 19 century Central European master sonata. The opening Allegro appassionato immediately takes the listener full attention with dramatic and powerful thematic material. Dohnanyi surprises in that he does not follow up with a slow movement but places a playful Allegro ma con tendrement next. A spirited Vivace assai tops off this absolutely first rate late romantic violin sonata.
Without question, here is a work for the recital hall, sure to please and deserving of violinists attention.