Mário Carreira: Matiegka's sonata op.23 for guitar and Haydn's pianoforte sonata in B minor, Hoboken XVI:32

Matiegka's Sonata op. 23 for guitar: FREE TO EVERYBODY
First movement (Presto) complete
Second movement (Minuet)
Third movement (Rondo)

Haydn's Sonata Hoboken XVI:32 for piano: FREE TO EVERYBODY
First movement (Allegro) complete
Second movement (Minuet)
Third movement (Finale)

A detailed comparison of the two works


This work is an unpublished paper, presented at Évora University (Portugal) in May 2003, under the title, Uma Sonata de Matiegka para Viola Francesa, Vienna, 1811.

The ideas gathered in this study focus on some aspects of the work of the composer Wenzeslaus Thomas Matiegka (1773-1830). (1)

The study compares Matiegka's sonata op. 23 for guitar, whose original title is Sonate/ pour la guitare/ composées (sic)/ par/ W. Matiegka/ Oeuvre 23/ Magasin de l'imprimerie chimique, no. 1786/ Vienne, 1811, with another sonata of the Viennese classical period: Joseph Haydn's pianoforte sonata in B minor, Hoboken XVI:32, one of a collection of six sonatas commonly known as Sonatas anno 1776. "This name is based on the circumstance that Haydn himself referred to the works as Sechs Sonaten erschienen 1776 (Six Sonatas that appeared in 1776); the date thus refers not to the year of composition but the year in which they were made available" (Wender, 2000).

These two works exhibit an intriguing analogy between two diverse composers: the first unknown to the vast majority and considered "minor"; the second requiring no introduction owing to his stature, enduring popularity and indelible influence on music history. The 1811 publication date of the Matiegka sonata falls two years after the death of Haydn in 1809, and the date of 1776 for Haydn's b minor sonata places it in the period of the Sturm and Drang aesthetic movement.

II-Schubert and Matiegka

Until relatively recently, Matiegka was known mainly for his Notturno op.21 for flute, viola and guitar, published in 1807, which Schubert transcribed and elaborated in his quartet D.96 (dated 1814 in the autograph manuscript). (2)

The quartet D. 96 (whose manuscript was found in 1918 in Zell-am-See, Austria) had for a long time been considered as Schubert's original, until the discovery of the 1807 edition of Matiegka's Notturno in 1931 by the guitarist Teodor Rischel.

Schubert has, in fact, reworked Matiegka's trio and added a difficult cello part. It may be noted, as a curiosity, that the vocal trio with guitar accompaniment, D. 80 and the quartet D. 96 are probably the sole works originally written by Schubert for the guitar, in the opinion of Otto Erich Deutsch and Brigitte Massin. (As to the numerous Lieder printed in Vienna in the composer's life with alternative guitar accompaniment, see Thomas Heck, I Lieder di Schubert per Chitarra, Il Fronimo, n. 24/25, Milan, 1978). (3)

III-The Bèrben Edition

In 1995, the Italian publisher Bèrben presented to the public an anthology of pieces for guitar by W. Matiegka. Among other works contained in this small corpus, one has particularly drawn my attention: the sonata op. 23, due to the fact that two of its movements exhibited an extraordinary similarity to the previously mentioned sonata in b minor Hoboken XIV:32 by Haydn. Francesco Biraghi, writing in Il Fronimo (1997, pages 52-53), pointed out the high quality of this sonata, (but he didn't mention Haydn):

"Di gran lunga il lavoro piú interessante del volume è invece la sonata op. 23 nella consueta tonalità di si menore. Il brano merita di essere diffuso al più presto tra i più valenti chitarristi, in modo da potere apprezare gli spunti di alta drammaticità, l'equilibrio formale e la buoníssima resa strumentale. (...) in questa antologia almeno due lavori che meritano particolare attenzione: le Variazioni op. 7 e la sonata op. 23" (sic).

"By far, the most interesting work in this volume is the sonata op. 23, in the comfortable tonality of B minor. This piece deserves to be disclosed as soon as possible among the best players, so that the elements of great dramatic intensity, formal balance and excellent instrumental outcome may be appreciated. (...) in this anthology, at least two works deserve particular attention: the variations op. 7 and the sonata op. 23."

The majority of readers may have considered this sonata to be an original by Matiegka, but it is not entirely(!).The essential motivic material for the first two movements comes, in fact, from the third (Finale Presto) and second (Minuet) movements of Haydn's b minor sonata Hoboken XIV:32. (4) A charge of plagiarism, however is, is completely unjustified. Arrangements and adaptations of works by other composers were common at the time and in preceding centuries, and lesser known composers often took popular works and adapted them for other instruments or performing occasions. A good example, among many others, is that of the above-mentioned Schubert quartet D. 96: this time in the reverse situation, in which a highly regarded composer "appropriates" the work of another, less known, one.

IV-Matiegka and Sturm und Drang

From the formal point of view, Matiegka's style in the Sonata Op 23 shows, as do other of his works, a strong influence of the Sturm und Drang movement. This manifests in the (apparently conservative for 1811) tendency towards minor tonalities, the use of silence as a dramatic and expressive resource, the surprise effect of sudden suspensions without preparation, a taste for the "quasi recitattivo", and the absence of the characteristic Alberti bass, leading to a bolder and more complex vertical writing. All these features are, effectively, some of the elements of style of the Sturm und Drang movement, of which Haydn was highly imbued and Matiegka confessed to be a strong admirer. Among other works of Matiegka with similar characteristics, some may be cited: the Variations on the imperial hymn "Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser", op. 7, the same motive that Haydn used in the Kaiser Quartet Op.76 no. 3 in C; Fantaisie pour la guitare seule, op. 4 and Grande Sonate pour la guitare N. 2 whose third movement is entitled "Variations sur l'air allemande (sic) par Haydn", all of them published in Vienna in the beginning of the XIX century (c. 1807-1817).

In the catalogue of Matiegka's works (in which dates and locations of works have yet to be fully confirmed), we also find arrangements dating from between 1806 and 1810 of some Lieder by Mozart and Beethoven (Abendempfindung, Adelaïde), Beethoven's famous Serenade op. 8 in D Major, as well as a Pot-Pourri for cello and guitar, op. 30 on themes from Mozart's Don Giovanni and Rossini's Barber of Seville.

V-Phrasing and dynamic indications

As can be seen by comparing the two sonatas, the pianoforte Urtext edition (Henle Verlag) does not have any performance indications, but the published edition of Matiegka's Sonata Op.23 has many clear dynamic markings and performance instructions. This detail could possibly be regarded as evidence of what the author himself may have seen and heard in Vienna in his time. Matiegka lived in Vienna from 1800 to 1830, so it is quite possible that he knew, perhaps in person, the composer Joseph Haydn, who died in the same city in 1809.


I am grateful to Bèrben Edition, Ancona, Italy for permission to reproduce here the facsimile edition of Matiegka's sonata; my warm thanks are due to Dr.Brian Jeffery, Director of Tecla Editions; to Margaret Cooke, from Auckland city, New Zealand, who kindly revised the English text with very valuable suggestions; to my teachers, Manuel Morais and João Pedro D'Alvarenga, from the University of Évora (Portugal). Of course, any inaccuracies which remain are my responsibility.

Mário Carreira

(1) Cf. Francesco Gorio, (1985), W. T. Matiegka, Il Fronimo, n. 52-55.

(2) Notturno pour Flute, Viole et Guitare/ composé et dédié à M.le Comte Jean Esterhazy par W.Matiegka/ Professeur Op.XXI/ Vienne/ chez Artaria et Comp./ PN 1926/ 1807

(3) See also, Heck, Thomas F., (1980), F. Schubert, Sixteen Songs with Guitar accompaniment, Tecla Editions

(4) See Yates, Stanley, Sor's Guitar Sonatas: Form and Style-pp.460-461, in Luis Gasser, Estudios sobre Fernando Sor, ICCMU, Colección Música Hispana/Textos. Madrid, 2002.


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Copyright by Mario Carreira 2009.

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