Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Creative Arts


School of Music

Committee Chair

Peter Amstutz

Committee Member

Lucy Mauro

Committee Member

Matthew Heap

Committee Member

John Goldwasser


This research project discusses the three piano sonatas by José de Almeida Penalva (1924-2002), a priest and composer from the southern region of Brazil, who lived most of his life in the city of Curitiba, in Paraná state.

Along with overall information about the composer’s life and general output, the reader will find brief discussions of Penalva’s keyboard works, along with comprehensive formal analyses of his three piano sonatas.

Sonata no. 1 (1970, chronologically the second to be written) appears in one large movement that reveals two distinct sections. Its language is atonal and its first section displays sonata-allegro form. The work employs twelve-tone technique along with folklore elements from the Brazilian genres seresta and desafio.

Sonata no. 2 (1960, chronologically the first to be written) employs free modal language in each of its three contrasting movements. According to Penalva’s own indications, the first movement draws on the styles of George Gershwin and Béla Bartók, the second movement refers to Camargo Guarnieri (Brazilian composer who lived from 1907-1993), and the third evokes Anton Webern. Although no material from these composers is directly quoted, it is possible to recognize their stylistic traits within the respective movements.

Sonata no. 3 (1991) is the most complex and technically demanding among the three sonatas. It employs free atonal language and displays three highly contrasting movements. Some folk elements also appear, as for example the third movement's energetic rhythm, which clearly suggests the Brazilian popular genre baião.

This research project is the first part of a larger undertaking that the author hopes will eventually include a commercial recording of all three sonatas, along with preparing a new performance edition that takes into account the many discrepancies among the composer’s manuscripts and the currently available editions. It is the author’s sincere hope that this research can help to popularize this repertoire, which is colorful and satisfying, but remains relatively unknown, both in Brazil and beyond.