Viola Sonata (Mendelssohn)

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Felix Mendelssohn's Viola Sonata in C minor was composed when he was only 15 years old. The autograph score is dated 14 February 1824. The work was not published in Mendelssohn's lifetime- or in fact until 1966[1] and it was not assigned an opus number. For the time, a viola sonata was a rare genre of chamber music and there are still few Classical or early Romantic viola sonatas. However, despite the dearth of solo music for the viola from this period, this sonata is not relatively well-known.

Mendelssohn himself was an accomplished violinist and violist, playing one of the viola parts in an early performance of his own String Octet in E flat major, and was fully aware of the difficulties of writing for the viola. The music for the piano is light and transparent allowing the viola to shine through at any time.

(Since the Mendelssohn sonata was not published for over 140 years, the first sonata specifically for viola to be published may have been by Karl Ernst Naumann, who was born in 1832, after this sonata was written.)


The sonata has three movements:

  1. Adagio – Allegro
  2. Menuetto - Allegro molto
  3. Andante con variazioni

A typical performance lasts just under 25 minutes.


  1. ^ Todd, R. Larry (2003). Mendelssohn: A Life in Music. Oxford University Press. p. 130. Retrieved March 4, 2011. 

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