The Dvořák family rented out a room in their home in Prague in 1886-1887 to a young chemistry student Josef Kruis, who also was an amateur violinist. At first the composer wrote for Kruis a trio for two violins and viola (Bagatelles or Miniatures, Opus 75a) with Dvořák himself the intended violist. However, Kruis was not good enough to play either violin part. So Dvořák within a week arranged the trio into a duet for one easy violin part (Kruis), eliminated the second violin and viola parts, and added the piano (Dvorak was the intended pianist), and he entitled it Four Romantic Pieces, (Opus 75). The arrangement was completed on January 18, 1887, and it was first performed publicly on March 30, 1887, by Karel Ondříček, a fine professional violinist in Prague, and Dvořák himself on piano. The Romantic Pieces were published in Berlin later that year and the trio version was not published until 1945 in Prague.
The first piece, originally entitled Cavatina, is in simple binary form. The second was originally called Capricio and is in three repeated sections. The third, Romanza, is also in binary form but with an introduction and coda. The slow fourth piece is an Elegia in binary form. The violin part in the first piece, as expected, is simple, but in the other three movements it is much more complicated, with double and triple stops, some tricky rhythms, and high notes. It seems possible that Rok Klopcic, who edited the four pieces for publication in 1887, added virtuosic elements to movements 2, 3, and 4. Opus 75, the duet, lasts about 14 minutes.
Janáček wrote his violin sonata between the years 1914 and 1922, during which time he rewrote some of it, composed new movements, and continually changed the order of the second, third, and fourth movements. Its first definitive, public performance was by violinist František Kudláček and pianist Jaroslav Kvapil in 1922 in Brno. Its first performance in Germany took place a year later with Paul Hindemith as violinist.
The Sonata is much more difficult than the Dvořák pieces. Just the key signatures of the four movements signal this: 5 flats, 4 sharps, 6 flats, 5 sharps respectively. After a two-bar introduction, the remainder of the first movement is a monothematic sonata form built on three quarter-notes in the violin part. The Ballada derives its theme from the first-movement theme and varies it several times between violin and piano. The third movement is in ternary form with the outer sections in duple meter and the middle section in triple meter. The finale begins and ends with a two-bar phrase; the bulk of the movement is in a sonata form. The development opens with the initial sonata form theme but with the new rubric, according to the score, “…rubato with growing emotion.” The Sonata lasts about 17 minutes.
When Beethoven moved to the spa Heiligenstadt in April,1802, he brought with him sketches for the three Opus 30 piano and violin sonatas. Within a month he completed them and dedicated all three to Tsar Alexander I of Russia. Twelve years later, at the behest of the Tsarina, Alexander paid the composer 30 ducats for the dedication. The visit to Heiligenstadt was an extremely important one for Beethoven; while there, he wrote his famous testament in which he decides not to despair any longer over his hearing loss and to dedicate his life to bettering humankind with his music. While the second sonata of Opus 30 in the tragic key of C Minor is one of dramatic despair, his third sonata in the optimistic key of G Major reaffirms his faith in God and his destiny.
The first movement is in a large, expansive sonata form. The second is a rondo in triple meter. The rondo theme, eight measures long, is first played by the piano and then answered by the violin. There is one subsidiary theme that alternates with the rondo theme. The finale is a lively dance with repeated variations of the theme. An ostinato is frequently played by the pianist’s left hand and is suggestive of the repeated tones in the hurdy gurdy, a folk instrument common in Austrian peasant dance music of the time. Beethoven’s sonata lasts about 16½ minutes.