Sonata Pian’ e forte a 8

From Wind Repertory Project
Giovanni Gabrieli

Giovanni Gabrieli (orch. Leopold Stokowski)

General Info

Year: 1597 / 1963?
Duration: c. 5:25
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Eight unspecified instruments
Publisher: Theodore Presser
Cost: Score and Parts - Rental


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II-III
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
B-flat Bass Clarinet
C Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV-V
Trombone I-II-III-IV

See additional instrumentation discussion in the Discussion tab here.


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The eleventh century church of St. Mark’s was the center of musical culture in Venice. The church, like Venice itself, was independent of any outside ecclesiastical authority. The church and its vast piazza served as the location for the illustrious civic ceremonies of Venice. Most Venetian music was created as an expression of the splendor of both church and state.

Serving at St. Mark’s in the late sixteenth century, Giovanni Gabrieli is known for his magnificent use of cori spezzati (divided choirs). With its multiple balconies and organs on opposite sides of the church, the cathedral at St. Mark’s gives rise to the rich history of music for double chorus. Furthermore, Venetian composers were opposed to the ideal of a cappella, from Rome, and frequently included organ, trombones, cornets and viols with vocal forces.

Although Gabrieli’s Sonata Pian’e forte is essentially a double-chorus motet for instrumentalists, this work has risen to a prominent place in the history of music for several important factors. The work exists as one of the early examples of music that specifies both particular instruments for each part and dynamic markings, elements that would have been previously improvised or implied through direct connection with the composer. For these reasons, the work demonstrates emergence of a more modern approach to the relationship between composer and performer and the growth of printed music and its international market.

In this orchestration by Leopold Stokowski, audiences can hear the various choirs of the wind orchestra calling out to each other, singing and echoing each other across distance. Its somber opening chorales give way to a glorious cathedral of sound -- their distance gives way to a powerful music expression of togetherness. Space itself becomes a compositional element.

- Program Note adapted from Jack Delaney and Chris David Westover-Muñoz

Commercial Discography

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Denison University (Granville, Ohio) Wind Ensemble (Chris David Westover-Muñoz, conductor) - 10 June 2021

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Chris David Westover-Muñoz, personal correspondence, June 2021
  • Gabrieli, G.; Stokowski, L. [19--]. Sonata pian e forte: Sacrae symphoniae, Venice 1597 [score]. Leopold Stokowski Collection of Orchestral Transcriptions: [s.l.].