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Sonata in F

by M.T. Agnesi

The early decades of the Classical period were marked by vibrant, bold, and uplifting music. The writing was simple and the texture clean, providing incredible contrast to the music of the Baroque period that had just ended.

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9 pages
Available in PDF
Published on Nov 2, 2020
Last updated 2 months ago

Who was Maria Teresa Agnesi?

Italian composer, harpsichordist and singer, Maria Teresa Agnesi, was born into modest nobility with a social standing that afforded her the opportunity to obtain a quality education. The Agnesi family home was a hub of intellectual activity that had a tremendous influence on Agnesi and her sister, Maria Gaetana, who was also musically talented and eventually became a mathematician.

Agnesi’s compositional style began simply, but grew to be more complex in her later writing. She wrote at least 4 operas, but it is possible she wrote as many as 6. Several of her operas include ritornellos and da capo form. She also wrote challenging keyboard and vocal music, and works for small ensembles. Beginning in the late 1740s, Agnesi began disseminating her music to royal patrons throughout Europe. These connections provided exposure for Agnesi and the impetus for further performance of her music. It is also likely that her music and talents were better received in Vienna and Dresden than in Milan, as evidenced by the adorned copies of her music written for those courts.

Her first cantata, Il restauro d’Arcadia, a pastoral cantata, was dedicated to Austrian governor Gian-Luca Pallavicini in Milan in 1747 and produced at Teatro Ducale. Her first opera seria, Ciro in Armenia, was performed at that same theater in 1753. Agnesi dedicated collections of her arias and instrumental pieces to the rulers of Saxony (specifically Maria Antonia Walpurgis) and Austria who were making a conscious effort to foster women in the arts and promote their music. In 1766 her L’insubria consolata was performed in Milan for the engagement of Beatrice d’Este of Parma and the Archduke Ferdinand. She later sent La Sofonisba to Vienna for possible performance on Empress Maria Theresa’s nameday. Certain accounts also note that the Holy Roman Empress and sovereign of Lombardy, Maria Theresa, sang arias that Agnesi wrote and gave to her.

Agnesi married Pier Antonio Pinottini on June 13, 1752 but because of her husband’s financial irresponsibility, their marriage led to serious financial hardship. They were eventually forced to sell their furniture and clothing to repay their debts.

Agnesi died in Milan in 1795 and her portrait now hangs in the theatrical museum at La Scala.

What's this piece like?

The early decades of the Classical period were marked by vibrant, bold, and uplifting music. The writing was simple and the texture clean, providing incredible contrast to the music of the Baroque period that had just ended.

This beautiful short sonata embodies the spirit of this generation and it will help you develop clean and even playing on the left hand, as well as nuanced scale passages on the right hand.

Who is it good for?

The first movement of this sonata is an excellent choice for early to intermediate level pianists who have already played a few sonatinas, such as Clementi’s Opus 36 or Diabelli’s Opus 168. The Alberti bass on the left-hand needs to be fast, light, and even. The right-hand offers a great variety of articulations and colors.

The second movement is a slow and tender Minuet, a common and popular dance rhythm at the time. The main challenge in this movement is to avoid verticality and keep the long lines flowing under such a slow tempo.

Sonata in F

by M.T. Agnesi

The early decades of the Classical period were marked by vibrant, bold, and uplifting music. The writing was simple and the texture clean, providing incredible contrast to the music of the Baroque period that had just ended.

Price: $4

Buy now
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