The Classical Piano Sonata

Michael Davidson

Davidson has surely succeeded in his aim to write ‘a useful guide to some of the most marvellous music ever conceived’. OUTSTANDING!
Andrew Eales – Pianodao

The book provides a very clear focus on the preeminent composers of Viennese Classicism, with 12 of the 15 sonatas composed by the four most important figures of the classical epoch. The worthy inclusion of Liszt, Brahms and Prokofiev serves to show how the legacy of those earlier forbears influenced future generations and developments.





Michael Davidson – author of the highly acclaimed Mozart and the Pianist – casts new light on some of the most masterly sonatas written for the piano and on the uniqueness of these great compositions and their composers. Excepting the considerable literature on Beethoven, few studies are available which explore the interpretation of this much played repertoire. This study is not only a detailed look at fourteen sonatas; one can also learn more about other works by these composers and about aspects of ‘style’ – that magical quality which differentiates Haydn from Mozart, Beethoven from Schubert, Liszt from Brahms.



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About the Author

Michael Davidson has performed, broadcast and taught worldwide. He studied at McGill University, Montreal and the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna. He has played all the Mozart piano sonatas in the Wigmore Hall, London and for the Vienna Mozart Society, and all the Schubert sonatas in Amsterdam, The Hague and London. His Mozart and the Pianist, a detailed survey of all of Mozart’s major works for piano solo has been sold in more than thirty countries.


1. Playing the piano music of the Classical Viennese School: some basic misconceptions
2. Haydn: Sonata in C minor, Hob XVI:20
3. Haydn: Sonata in E flat major, Hob XVI:49
4. Mozart: Sonata in C major, K330
5. Beethoven: Sonata in C minor ‘Pathetique’, Op.13
6. Beethoven: Sonata in D minor ‘Storm’, Op.31/2
7. Beethoven: Sonata in E major, Op.109
8. Beethoven: Sonata in A flat major, Op.110
9. Beethoven: Sonata in C minor, Op.111
10. Schubert: Sonata in A major, D664 (Op.120)
11. Schubert: Sonata in A minor, D784 (Op.143)
12. Schubert: Sonata in A major, D959 (Op.posth)
13. Liszt: Sonata in B minor
14. Brahms: Sonata in F minor, Op.5
15. Prokofiev: Sonata in C major, No.9, Op.103


The real joy of this book, which lifts it above many a textbook, is that the selected sonatas, though discussed in depth, illustrate the staging posts and landmarks on a much broader and more valuable journey through the development of the sonata itself. Davidson provides a ‘field guide’ suitable for performers, students and listeners, steering all his readers towards the most fulsome and enjoyable engagement with each sonata and with the repertoire as a whole. It is marvellous both for its analysis and practical advice. The book is undoubtedly essential reading for anyone interested in learning, performing or teaching any of the works discussed within. Moreover though, I must strongly recommend it to any serious pianist or classical music-lover. I suspect many others will find just the same; Davidson has surely succeeded in his aim to write ‘a useful guide to some of the most marvellous music ever conceived’! OUTSTANDING!
Andrew Eales – Pianodao

Hugely stimulating and thought provoking but also enjoyable, this book will be a boon not only for pianists, but for all readers’ Eleanor Bailie, author of The Pianist’s Repertoire series Michael Davidson’s Mozart and the Pianist, so unanimously acclaimed, struck an ideal balance between scholarship and performance practice. His eagerly awaited The Classical Piano Sonata; from Haydn to Prokofiev is exceptionally interesting, each chapter like a masterclass or masterly concert.
Malcom Troup – EPTA Piano Journal, London

A guide post for anyone seriously interested in piano music at a professional level. The perceptions, humour, and above all, humanity shine through in every page.
Professor Both Lehel, Director – Liszt Music Academy, Budapest

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