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Work

Ferruccio Busoni

Ferruccio Busoni Composer

Sonatina No.3 ('ad usum infantis'), KiV 268   

Performances: 3
Tracks: 7
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Musicology:
  • Sonatina No.3 ('ad usum infantis'), KiV 268
    Year: 1915
    Genre: Other Keyboard
    Pr. Instrument: Piano
    • 1.Molto tranquillo
    • 2.Andantino melancolico
    • 3.Vivace
    • 4.Molto tranquillo
    • 5.Polonaise
Ferruccio Busoni's take on music was not easily understood in its day. His sound was poised and unhurried, courtly and tender. Those who were not listening closely would mistake his music for something 100 years older, but its construction and language was something that could only have occurred at the beginnings of the twentieth century, and Sonatine ad usum infantis is an excellent example of his sophisticated approach. He wrote it in New York for an American girl who was his son's friend. All five movements are linked thematically in a classical fashion. They have all the stately proportions of a timely work from 1790, yet the longest movement is only slightly more than two minutes in duration, making his Third Sonatina practically a collection of miniatures. As well, the actual language being used is worlds away from that of Mozart and Haydn, as is revealed by close listening. By 1915, every historically significant composer was wrestling with the end of tonality in his own way. Schoenberg obliterated tonality ruthlessly while Stravinsky wrote in a way that ironized it, inferring that it was already ancient history. Busoni, as heard in this sonatina, wrote in a way that released the score of tonal energy while not attacking it either; the music does not sound deliberately antithetical to late tonality. It is politely removed, lacking expressive dissonance of any kind while being urbane, concerned, and lyrically effective. The second movement, for example, an Andantino melancolico, features a fugue that runs on Busoni's own rules of counterpoint, so that it is clear and impressive while not obeying the rules culled from the study of J.S. Bach. It is crystalline, yet human, and immensely listenable. As Schoenberg and Stravinsky competed for history's designation as the composer who crushed tonality, Busoni's own approach was effective and non-combative. Listeners who hear Sonatine ad usum infantis will know immediately that the dedicatee would have been greatly moved.

© John Keillor, All Music Guide
Portions of Content Provided by All Music Guide.
© 2008 All Media Guide, LLC. All Music Guide is a registered trademark of All Media Guide, LLC.
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