Karel Husa - Sonata for Violin and Piano34:55

Karel Husa - Sonata for Violin and Piano


Karel Husa (b. 1921) is a Czech-born, American composer and conductor. He is the winner of the 1969 Pulitzer Prize. He is an American citizen as of 1959, and has written the bulk of his compositions here. His early compositions resemble somewhat of a  neo-classical sound. After his early works, Husa experimented with serialism in works to which I cannot find a recording (Suite for Viola and Piano and Poem for Viola and Chamber Orchestra primarily). After this period, Husa experiments further with extended instrumental techniques which can be heard in his Violin Sonata (1973).


As previously stated, this work is primarily about extended techniques on the violin. The Sonata consists of almost every technique imaginable such as: glissandi, muted sound, slow and wide vibrato for audible quarter tones, and much more. What I like about this work, which I think also sets it aside from other works of the era, is that not only is this piece dissonant and atonal, but it still retains a sense of direction and in some cases a melody (although said melody may never be revisited). In some parts of this piece, the sound is more drifting and wandering, but I think of it as more of a special effect. 


Comparing this work to Alfred Schnittke's Violin Sonata No. 2 (1968) is quite interesting. I chose to compare it to the second sonata because it is closer to the date of Husa's sonata. Schnittke's violin sonata is similar in that it uses a ton of extended techniques for the violin. The use of silence in this sonata is also quite brilliant. I would definitely be able to recognize that these two sonatas were written at roughly the same time.


I very much liked listening to this sonata, although I would have loved to research the viola works. But alas, there are no recordings anywhere. This could be a future project...


Adams, Byron. "Husa, Karel." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed May 1, 2014.

Husa, Karel. "Karel Husa - Sonata for Violin and Piano" (video). Accessed May 1, 2014.

Schnittke, Alfred. "SCHNITTKE Violin Sonata No. 2 - G. Kramer, A. Gavrilov, 1979" (video). Accessed May 1, 2014.

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