Sonata for Solo Cello in B Minor, Op. 8

Sonata for Solo Cello in B Minor, Op. 8

Sonata for Solo Cello in B Minor, Op. 8

Zoltán Kodály

Alexander Chaushian's masterclass

Produced by the Saline royale Academy English Music sheet annotated by  Alexander Chaushian  is available 45 min Cello

In this masterclass for Cello, Alexander Chaushian and his student Kioumarz Kian addres bowing, sound, phrasing, among many other subjects.

Produced by the Saline royale Academy

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The masterclass

About this masterclass 

In this masterclass, Alexander Chaushian discusses pacing and control in Kodály’s Sonata for Solo Cello. Overall, he warns his student Kioumarz Kian against rushing too much. He helps Kian distinguish between places where the music should feel sung and where it should feel spoken, and encourages him to take time to let the strings fully vibrate and create their most resonant sound so that the harmonies and chords can be clearly heard.

In addition, he challenges the student to be precise with the written markings and offers advice on bowing, vibrato, and fingerings that will support those markings and effectively communicate the music. He also works with the student to be more emphatic with his musical decisions and phrasing. The student must know at all times when he wants to go with the phrase, and then exaggerate that decision, so the audience can understand it. 

What we learn in this masterclass 

  1. Taking time to play and hear the details. 

  2. Having a singing, resonant quality of sound.

  3. Following the written markings.

  4. Controlling the bow and vibrato.

  5. Exaggerating musical decisions and phrases.

Sonata for Solo Cello in B Minor, Op. 8 by Zoltán Kodály

Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály composed his Sonata in B minor for solo cello in 1915, though it was not premiered until 1918 and was initially avoided by many cellists due to its immense difficulty. It began to achieve widespread interest after famous cellist János Starker recorded it in 1939, and has since become one of the most important works for unaccompanied cello. The piece contains numerous influences, including from Bartok, Debussy, and Hungarian folk music, and successfully balances tradition with innovation. It calls for scordatura, which in this case means tuning the lower two strings down one semitone, creating a different timbre and new possibilities for note combinations.

The first movement, Allegro maestoso ma appassionato, is in sonata form. The piece opens with quadruple stops, which continuously demarcate the different sections of the movement. The first theme incorporates accents typical of Hungarian music, while the contrasting second theme is more lyrical. The second movement, Adagio con gran espressione, imitates the human voice. The cello is able to accompany its own bowed, melodic material with pizzicato. The final movement, Allegro molto vivace, evokes the sounds of different folk instruments and poses steep technical challenges to the performer. Its unique rhythms, harmonies, and spirit captivate audiences.

  • Composer: Kodály
  • Piece:Sonata for Solo Cello in B Minor, Op. 8
  • Professor: Alexander Chaushian
  • Student:Kioumarz Kian
  • Instruments: Cello
  • Date:11 April 2022
  • Producer: Produced by the Saline royale Academy
  • Duration:45 min
  • Spoken language:English

Sheet music

Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this cello masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Alexander Chaushian’s feedback and comments.

Sheet music sonata for solo cello in b minor, op. 8

Alexander Chaushian

Alexander Chaushian

Winner of the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 2002

Regarded as one of the finest cellists, Alexander Chaushian has performed extensively throughout the world as a soloist with orchestras such as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia, the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, The London Mozart Players, The Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, The Boston Pops, and The Armenian Philharmonic. He has given highly acclaimed performances in such venues as London’s Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Wigmore Hall, Sala Verdi Milan, Konzerthaus Vienna, Suntory Hall Japan, and more. He performs regularly in festivals throughout the world and is the Artistic Director of the International Pharos Chamber Music Festival in Cyprus and the Yerevan Music Festival in Armenia.

After studying in Armenia, Alexander Chaushian continued his studies in the UK at the Menuhin School and the Guildhall School, London. He then pursued advanced studies at the Hochschule Berlin, graduating with distinction in 2005. He is a laureate prize winner of many international competitions, including the 12th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and the ARD Competition in Germany. As an alumnus of Young Concert Artists, New York, he toured extensively in the USA.

Among the many distinguished musicians whom he has collaborated with are Yehudi Menuhin, Julia Fischer, Levon Chilingirian, Yuri Bashmet, Diemut Poppen, François-Frédéric Guy, Emmanuel Pahud. His regular chamber music partner is Yevgeny Sudbin. 



Zoltán  Kodály

Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967) was a Hungarian composer, ethnomusicologist, and educator. Growing up in the Hungarian countryside, he demonstrated musical talent from childhood and was frequently exposed to folk songs sung by his peers. He played several instruments, sang in the school choir, and even composed. In 1902, he began studying composition and music education at the Academy of Music in Budapest. While working on the thesis for his PhD, he began traveling around Hungary recording folk songs on phonograph cylinders. It was during this endeavor that he became acquainted with composer Béla Bartók, who shared his interest in Hungarian folk music. The two worked together for years, collecting and publishing anthologies of folk songs and supporting each other’s musical endeavors. 

Kodály eventually joined the faculty at the Academy of Music, first teaching theory, then composition, and eventually becoming the Music Director. However, his compositional career did not take off until 1923, when his work Psalmus hungaricus was performed at the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the joining of the cities Buda and Pest. Soon after, other compositions, such as his opera Háry Janos and the famous Dances of Galánta, catapulted him onto the international stage. His compositions blended together romantic, impressionist, and modernist techniques with qualities of Hungarian folk music. 

Kodály was also passionate about musical education and sought to reform the way music was taught to young students in Hungary. He advocated for group learning, the use of hand signs, and connecting music education with the students’ heritage and background. The principles he developed for music education became the basis for what is now referred to as the “Kodály method.” He also published several books and other scholarly writing on the subject. The composer died in 1967, having made an indelible mark on Hungarian classical music and music education.  

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