A sonata is a musical composition that has been around for centuries. It is a classical form of music that has been used by many composers to express their creativity, emotions and thoughts. In this article, we will explore what a sonata is, how it is structured and some famous examples of sonatas.

What is a Sonata?

A sonata is a musical composition that has three or four movements. The term “sonata” comes from the Italian word “sonare,” which means to sound.

It was primarily used for instruments like the piano, violin, and cello. However, in modern times, it can be used for any instrumental combination or even vocal music.

Structure of a Sonata

The structure of a sonata usually follows the following pattern:

First Movement: This movement is usually in Sonata-Allegro form. It consists of three main sections: exposition, development, and recapitulation.

The exposition introduces two contrasting themes that are later developed in the development section. The recapitulation brings back the themes from the exposition in the tonic key.

Second Movement: This movement is usually slower and more lyrical than the first movement. It can be in any form but is commonly either theme and variations or ternary form.

Third Movement: This movement can be a minuet and trio or scherzo and trio. It’s usually faster than the second movement but not as fast as the first movement.

Fourth Movement: Not all sonatas have four movements, but if they do, this final movement is typically fast-paced and energetic. It often follows sonata-allegro or rondo form.

Famous Sonatas

There are numerous famous examples of sonatas across different eras of music. Here are just a few:

Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op.

27, No. 2 (Moonlight Sonata): This sonata is one of the most famous and recognizable pieces of classical music. It has a hauntingly beautiful first movement that is often heard in movies and TV shows.

Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major, K. 331: This sonata is known for its third movement, which features a Turkish march that has become quite popular over the years.

Brahms’ Violin Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Op. 108: This sonata is one of Brahms’ most popular works and showcases his mastery of melody and harmony.


In conclusion, a sonata is a musical composition that has been around for centuries and is still used by many composers today. Its standard structure consists of three or four movements that each have their own unique characteristics. There are numerous examples of famous sonatas that showcase the beauty and complexity of this musical form.