Sonata for Violin and Piano in A minor, B33

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Sonata for Violin and Piano in A minor was written when the composer was thirty-two, at the beginning of 1873. Surviving period press reviews tell us about the premiere of the second movement on 19 March 1874 at a concert organised by the artists’ association Umelecka beseda, and describe the first performance of the entire work on 22 January 1875 by violinist Josef Markus and pianist Josef Jiranek. The sonata had three movements, while the last of these was an attempt to combine the traditional scherzo and final movements. According to critics at the time, the piece was also audacious in terms of its chosen harmonies. We might get an approximate idea of the work’s character if we view it in the light of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, which was written very soon after the sonata and adopts a similar formal arrangement of its movements. The critics may have been judgemental towards the “lack of strict sonata form”, but were otherwise full of praise for the work and its overall impression: “What one can state for sure is that the piece assumes a true place of honour in the modern violin repertoire, so profound is its impact.” This work, which could well have been a significant testimony of this important stage in Dvorak’s musical development, is now unfortunately lost.