Sonata for Violin & Piano
Leos Janacek (1854-1928) was born in the Moravian town of Hukvaldy. He began his studies in Brunn (Brno) and then at the Prague, Leipzig, and Vienna conservatories. Afterwards he he obtained a teaching post at the Brno College of Music, later serving as its director. As a composer, he primarily concerned himself with works for voice, however he did write two string quartets and a number of sonatas. His music up until around 1900 shows the influence of Smetana and Dvorak, but in his later works, he developed his own highly original style apart from any other composer, including his many students. Though still traditionally tonal and often of a folkoric vein, it expands tonal boundaries and really cannot be categorized.
Janacek worked on the sonata for nearly 8 years revising it several times. He finally completed in in 1922. The first movement, Con moto, begins with an excited violin solo. It Russian tinge Janacek recalled was due to the fact that it was begun in 1914 at the outbreak of WWI, when he Janacek was hoping and expecting the Russians to liberate his homeland from the hated Austrians masters. The music has many of the same characteristic traits--a rugged terseness, fragmentation, and explosiveness---found in his operas. The second movement, Ballad, unlike the other movements, has a more lyrical and calm theme for its main subject. The third movement, Allegretto, is a highly original scherzo, with a vague Russian tinge. The finale, Adagio, begins pensively. The ferocious violin outburst, played while muted are striking and the grandiose coda, has a choral quality.