Sonata for Violin and Piano in b minor
Amanda Maier (1853-1894) was born in the Swedish town of Landskrona. Her early musical studies on violin and piano were with her father. Subsequently, she studied at the Stockholm Conservatory, winning awards not only for her violin playing but also for her ability on the organ and cello as well as for her compositional ability. After graduating, she continued her studies at the Leipzig Conservatory where she studied composition with Carl Reinecke and violin with Engelbert Röntgen, concertmaster of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. While in Leipzig, she continued to win prizes for her compositions, including her Sonata for Violin and Piano in b minor which was composed in 1874. After leaving Leipzig, she spent the next few years touring as a concert violinist before marrying the composer Julius Röntgen, the son of her teacher. Amanda was a fairly prolific composer up until her marriage by which time she a two piano quartets, a piano trio, two string quartets and several other instrumental works to her credit. However, after her marriage she more or less gave up her career. Brahms and Grieg were among those who heard and praised her music highly. Unfortunately, only a few of her compositions were ever published.
The Sonata for Violin and Piano in b minor is in three movements. The fact that one can hear the influence of Schumann and to a lesser extent Mendelssohn can be explained not only by the fact that those composers were held up as models to students then studying composition at the Leipzig Conservatory but also because her composition teacher, Carl Reinecke, was one of the foremost Schumann proponents. The first movement, Allegro, is dark in character and full of passion and a sense of anxiety. The second movement, Andantino--Allegretto un poco vivace, begins as a barcarolle in 3/8. With its faster middle section, one could say she enclosed a short scherzo interlude within the slow movement. The finale, Allegro molto vivace, is a rollicking and at times dramatic rondo which concludes triumphantly in the major.
Had this sonata been written by a well-known composer it would have entered the repertoire without any question. It is no wonder that it won a prize, for it is as good as any violin sonata from this period. Highly recommended.