Wendelin Bitzan
PhD Dissertation

PhD Dissertation

The Sonata as an Ageless Principle

Nikolai Medtner’s Early Piano Sonatas:
Analytic Studies on their Genesis, Style, and Compositional Technique

The dissertation focuses on the early piano sonatas of Russian composer Nikolai Karlovich Medtner (1880–1951). It approaches them in the context of genre history, confronts them with other composer’s works, and discusses them from various analytic perspectives. A special goal is to consider the pieces in the aesthetic environment of their time, and to regard them as peculiar instances of the ›sonata principle‹, an ageless conception of musical form. The study is subdivided in three large parts, the first of which presents a summary of sonata composition before Medtner, exploring lines of tradition in Western Europe and Russia. The second part concentrates on Medtner’s musical language and its stylistic features. The third and most comprehensive part provides detailed examinations of eight of Medtner’s piano sonatas, including aspects of their genesis and reception, and making use of recent methods of musical analysis.

Full text available at musiconn.publish (open access)
Download Abstract in English and German language (PDF)

I am issuing a Medtner newsletter, coming 2–3 times a year, with the purpose of spreading information on concerts, recordings, and current research. Please drop me a line in case you want to subscribe.
Recent publications on Medtner’s music include analytical papers on the Sonata Triad and G minor Sonata, Opp. 11 and 22 (in German), on the E minor Sonata ›Night Wind‹, Op. 25 No. 2 (in German), and on the Sonata-Ballade, Op. 27 (in English).
I presented my research related to Medtner at conferences and symposia in London, Rostock, Leipzig, Kassel, Vienna, Graz, St Petersburg, Odessa, Bonn and Moscow. Upcoming lectures in 2022 are scheduled for Reading and Salzburg.