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The Sonatas of Johann Gottfried Eckard (1735-1809) and the Evolution of Keyboard Instruments Between 1760 and 1785

Description: Johann Gottfried Eckard was a self-trained composer and keyboardist studying with Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s Versuch while he lived in Augsburg. Eckard traveled to Paris with the keyboard instrument builder, Johann Andreas Stein, in 1758 and settled in France for the rest of his life. Eckard only composed eight keyboard sonatas and a set of variations on the Menuet d’Exaudet. He published his works during the transitional period from harpsichord to fortepiano. The eight keyboard sonatas incorporated variations of musical styles which included Italian sonata, galant, and empfindsamer stil. His keyboard sonatas influenced his contemporaries including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Schobert. Eckard was one of the early fortepiano composers in France and tried to promote the new instrument, but wrote in the Foreword of six sonatas (op.1), that they were suitable for the harpsichord, the clavichord, and the fortepiano. The six sonatas of op.1 were published in 1763, two years after fortepiano was advertised for sale in the local newspaper. In 1768, the fortepiano was used in a public concert for the first time in Paris. In the aspect of performance practice, both harpsichord and fortepiano used juxtapose during the transitional period, even though the music would sound better on the fortepiano especially the slow movements in Eckard’s sonatas. The early stage of French fortepiano building was influenced by German keyboard instrument builders. In addition to building harpsichords, French builders, Taskin and Goermann, also started building fortepianos. Eckard was highly respected as both a composer and a performer from music critics in his time.
Date: August 2013
Creator: Chiang, I-Fang
Partner: UNT Libraries