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Music Sheets and a Cross

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

Piano Sonata No. 1 (1982) was commissioned by Barry Hannigan who gave the first premiere performances of the sonata. In commissioning the composition, Hannigan gave the explicit directive that he sought a work that was accessible and certainly not 12-tone. The composer took this as a challenge to write a work that was both serial and accessible but to write in such a way that neither the audiences or the pianist could perceive the underlying structure. When Hannigan premiered the work he had no idea that he was performing a strict, serial composition. The movements of this sonata utilize a traditional fast-slow-fast scheme and each movement gets progressively more diatonic (read: accessible), a function of the qualities of the row chosen for this composition.

You can hear the entire sonata here as performed by Steven Beck for the Shelter Recordings Project of the American Composers Alliance

Here are the opening pages of the first movement of Steven Block's Piano Sonata No.1:


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