so·​na·​ta | \ sə-ˈnä-tə How to pronounce sonata (audio) \

Definition of sonata

: an instrumental musical composition typically of three or four movements in contrasting forms and keys

Examples of sonata in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Steel pored through Dawson’s papers at Emory University and saw that Dawson had written a sonata for solo violin, also arranging the piece’s slow movement for piano trio and string quartet., "Amplifying the Black composers who brought spirituals to classical music," 15 Apr. 2021 Adapting structural innovations from Liszt’s then-recent B minor Piano Sonata, Reubke’s organ sonata is a Lisztian tone poem dramatizing the psalm’s verses. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "Mighty sounds from Todd Wilson and the Meyerson Symphony Center’s Fisk organ," 23 Nov. 2020 Both musicians were cannily aware of the parallels between our present moment and the history of the sonata. Madelyne Xiao, The New Yorker, "Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax on the Role of Music in Dark Times," 21 Oct. 2020 Nearly a century later, Austrian Artur Schnabel spent three years making the first complete recording of the sonata cycle. Matthew J. Palm,, "Pianist tackles ‘herculean’ feat in Winter Park: All 32 Beethoven sonatas," 28 Sep. 2020 If Adams is a Beethoven sonata, full of thunder and drama, then Eggleston is a Robert Carver short story. Philip Martin, Arkansas Online, "OPINION | PHILIP MARTIN: Ansel Adams' pictures," 27 Sep. 2020 The formal understanding of this four-part structure permeated classical symphony, sonata, and concerto. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "Removing Beethoven’s Wig: A Classical Music Reading List," 29 May 2020 Elvis Costello can get away with a ragged performance on his bed, but try replacing the Jupiter Symphony at Severance Hall with a violin sonata on an iPhone. Geoff Edgers, Washington Post, "Entertainers promised to see us through the quarantine. Even they are running out of steam.," 10 July 2020 The music was someone playing a recorder, nothing fancy, some kind of easy-listening sonata. J.c. Hallman, The New Republic, "Minneapolis in the Aftermath," 4 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sonata.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of sonata

1786, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sonata

Italian, from sonare to sound, from Latin

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Last Updated

20 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sonata.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for sonata



English Language Learners Definition of sonata

music : a piece of music written for one or two instruments that has usually three or four large sections that are different from each other in rhythm and mood


so·​na·​ta | \ sə-ˈnä-tə How to pronounce sonata (audio) \

Kids Definition of sonata

: a musical composition for one or two instruments consisting of three or four separate sections in different forms and keys


So·​na·​ta | \ sō-ˈnä-tə How to pronounce Sonata (audio) \

Medical Definition of Sonata

used for a preparation of zaleplon

More from Merriam-Webster on sonata

Nglish: Translation of sonata for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about sonata

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