Sonata in B flat Major for Viola and Piano
Carl Stamitz's Viola Sonata in B flat Major, sometimes given the spurious opus number of 6, dates from around 1780. Besides the excellence of the composition, it is also important from an historical standpoint as few composers from the classical era pen viola sonatas. Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven did not. Only Dittersdorf and Hummel did. In three superbly written movements, the sonata opens with a very fetching Allegro and is followed by an elegant Andante moderato and topped off by a foot-tapping Rondo. If you did know it was by Stamitz, you surely would have guessed that Mozart had written it.
Carl Philipp Stamitz (1745-1801) was born in the German city of Mannheim. His father Johann Stamitz was a famous composer and violinist in his own right and Carl took his first lessons from him and later from Christian Cannabich director of the Mannheim Court Orchestra, then the best in Europe. Stamitz pursued a career as a touring violin virtuoso with some success, however, he was never able to obtain a permanent appointment. He is considered the most important exponent of the so-called Mannheim School of composition which ultimately led to the Vienna Classic style of which Haydn and Mozart were the leading composers. Like most of his contemporaries, he was a prolific composer writing hundreds of works from symphonies, to concertos to chamber music. His style resembles that of early Mozart and Haydn, both of whom could be said to have been influenced by him.