I'd just like to ask if there's a difference between a sonata (or any duet for that matter) for piano and violin vs sonata for violin and piano? I was watching a performance online and saw comments about how
Sonata No.9 Kreutzer is a sonata for PIANO (emphasis on the piano) and violin because they said the piano was overpowering the violin. I personally think they weren't overpowering and they followed the piece perfectly including the dynamics however that particular comment got me wondering if "sonata for piano and violin" and "sonata for violin and piano" had any difference (like who leads who).

1 Answer 1


This is easy: Beethoven named it so, see Wikipedia. A modern piano can always drown a violin and and I guess, it was the same situation with fortepiano at Beethovens time. (So I don't buy the emphasized instrument first proposal.)

The sequence is unusual, however, since more often than not a piano is involved anyway (Advantages: supports harmonies, can supply multiple voices, etc.), so one typically starts giving the other instrument.

A bit of history is useful for understanding the context: when instrumental sonatas were invented, they were for melody instrument and basso continuo, which could be played by viola da gamba, lute or harpsichord or a combination of those, possibly joined by a bassoon or similar ensembles. J. S. Bach created in his violin sonatas some of the first, where the harpsichord was decidedly requested (marked by cembalo obligato) to make clear, that no substitution is asked for.

With invention of the piano it made itself quickly indispensable, so it become custom, to mention the second instrument only, if it is something different (as e. g. a second violin).

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