A piano sonata is a work for unaccompanied piano that usually spans three or four movements though they can also be made up of only one or two.
Typically, piano sonatas are made up of three movements:
1st movement: Allegro - usually in sonata form.
2nd movement: Andante - usually in ABA ternary form
3rd movement: Allegro (though can also be a scherzo) - usually a developmental rondo.
While this form was generally followed throughout the classical period, the form began to be variated upon greatly in the romantic era such as Liszt's piano sonata which is comprised of four movements played without pause in a gigantically structured sonata form. Or Chopin's second piano sonata which starts with a grave movement and contains a funeral march.
In the 20th century, piano sonatas began to be treated even more loosely. Scriabin famously wrote all of his late sonatas (no. 5 - 10) in a single movement in sonata form which often covered a wide variety of moods, colors, and speeds. Barber wrote his only sonata in four movements with the finale actually being a four-voice fugue. However, there do exist some 20th century piano sonatas that do adhere to strictly to the classical sonata form such as Bartok's only piano sonata; though it is far removed harmonically from anything of the classical period.
Notable piano sonatas
- Beethoven, Ludwig Van:
- - Piano Sonata No. 21 in C Major "Waldstein" (op. 53)
- - Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor "Appassionata" (op. 57)
- - Piano Sonata No. 26 in E-flat Major "Les Adieux" (op. 81a)
- - Piano Sonata No. 28 in A Major (op. 101)
- - Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major "Hammerklavier" (op. 106)
- - Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor (op.111)
- Chopin, Frédéric:
- - Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor "Funeral March" (op. 35)
- - Piano Sonata No. 3 in B Minor (op. 58)
- Liszt, Franz:
- - Sonata in B Minor (S. 178)
- - Dante Sonata
- Schumann, Robert
- -Piano Sonata No. 1 in F-sharp minor "Grosse Sonate" (op. 11)
- -Piano Sonata No. 2 in G minor (op. 22)
- -Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor "Concerto without Orchestra" (op.14)
- Barber, Samuel:
- - Piano Sonata (op. 26)
- Bartók, Bela:
- - Piano Sonata (Sz.80)
- Berg, Alban:
- - Piano Sonata (op. 1)
- Copland, Aaron:
- - Piano Sonata
- Ives, Charles:
- -Piano Sonata No. 2 "Concord Mass"
- Prokofiev, Sergei
- -Piano Sonata No. 3 in A minor "From Old Notebooks" (op. 28)
- -Piano Sonata No. 6 in A Major "War Sonata 1" (op. 82)
- -Piano Sonata No. 7 in B flat Major "War Sonata 2/Stalingrad" (op.83)
- -Piano Sonata No. 8 in B flat Major "War Sonata 3" (op. 84)
- Scriabin, Alexander:
- - Piano Sonata No. 5 (op. 53)
- - Piano Sonata No. 7 "White Mass" (op. 64)
- - Piano Sonata No. 9 "Black mass" (op. 68)
- Rachmaninoff, Sergei:
- -Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor (Op.36)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9RCjXAO5e4 -The First Movement of Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0lfk2QgPhc - Scriabin's 5th Sonata
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siCJVe_FQlo - The First Movement of Rachmaninoff's 2nd Sonata