Franc Šturm's Piano Sonata

  • Katarina Bedina


The composition in question is the eleventh work according to the chronological bibliography of Franc Šturm (1912–1943). It was written after the composer had finished his studies at the Conservatoire with Slavko Osterc. Designed as a cyclic form without interruptions between movements, it is introduced by a Sostenuto (passacaglia with a theme and nine variations), followed by an Allegro (exposition of a sonata movement with introduction and development), an Andante (tripartite slow movement) and a concluding recapitulation of the exposition together with a prolonged coda. An explicitly formal peculiarity is the interpolation between the exposition and development: the would-be third theme of the sonata movement appears to be Šturm's attempt on one hand to condense the missing elements of the sonata, i.e. the generally problematic last movement, and on the other to substitute the sonata menuet or rather scherzo with a characteristic polymetric and polyrhythmic modification (2 + 2 : 2 x 3 + 3). Thematically and regarding the sound the composition grows from the elements of the introductory passacaglia. The filigree arrangement of its motivic elements is designed in such a way as to represent in spite of various thematic and harmonic transformations the embrionic idea of the whole sonata. The principle of variagatedness within homogeneousness is carried out in all compositional parametres. Transformations of the very same material reveal the inventiveness and weight of a composer with a »message«. The harmonic basis of the composttion ensues from the intervals in the passacaglia (major second, inverted also as a minor seventh, minor third, perfect fourth and perfect fifth), whereas the pentatonic basis of the ostinato (without semitone) furnishes an archaic hue as well as the same relation of intervals as the theme proper. The composition flows within a bitonal organization of sound, transitions are carried out without traditional cadences, whereas the tonic-dominant relation between the first and the second theme (in the recapitulation they are both on the tonic) is preserved in the sonata movement. The composition is a good example of the tendencies of 20th century classics to find – within the hitherto most highly developed tnusical form – an adequate framework for expressing elaborated ideas through new means of sound. Šturm's work is part of the avantgarde conglomerate between the two wars which tried to develop a new sonata idiom. The work has not been presented to the public yet. The article wishes thus to elucidate the compositional intentions of an unknown, though first-rate musician. On the verge of the break with tradition there is no other similar piano sonata known in Slovene musical literature.


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How to Cite
BedinaK. (1979). Franc Šturm’s Piano Sonata. Musicological Annual, 15(1), 78-88.