Veijo Murtomäki

Heinrich Christoph Koch, Josef Antonín Štĕpán and the Viennese Classical Piano School

Based on the Classical music theory, especially on that of H. Chr. Koch (1749–1816), it is possible to develop a formal analytical system, in which the thematic labels can even be omitted, if the form is not seen just as a sequence of melodic ideas. Instead, when taking as a departure the cadential hierarchy of the sonata exposition, in which the emphasis is gradually moved from the tonic to the dominant in the major key I–V–V/V–V (V = dominant key), the dynamics of the sonata form can be explained in a satisfactory way. Instead of seeing the beginnings of the new formal stages as the main determinants of the form, it is here proposed that the end-oriented concept of Koch and the idea of four cadential areas (1)–(2)–(3)–(4) are in full harmony with the thinking of the Classical composers. This Kochian sonata form is demonstrated with an analysis of Štĕpán's A-major Sonata (Šetkova No. 32).

Josef Antonín Štĕpán (1726–1797) was among some 30 Bohemian-born musicians, who made a career in Vienna during the second half of the 18th century. Štĕpán was held as one of the leading piano teachers and pianists in Vienna (1741–), where he served as court teacher of the young empresses (1766–1775). As piano composer he was highy appreciated by his contemporaries. Štĕpán's virtuoso keyboard style was described as innovative and original, full with expression and beauty. With some 40 piano concertos and even more piano sonatas Štĕpán is – besides Haydn, Mozart, and Leopold Kozeluch – one of the founders of the so-called ‘Viennese Classical Piano School’.