The three piano sonatas by Joachim Raff (1822–1882), representing his three main creative phases, occupy a special position among his more than 100 piano pieces. They reflect a significant compositional aspiration whereas Raff otherwise frequently leans towards the salon-music genre in his piano music. Raff composed the early sonata op. 14 in 1844 after his first works were positively evaluated and Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy had encouraged him to venture a career as a composer.
The Fantasie-Sonate [Fantasy Sonata] in d minor op. 168, Raff wrote in 1871 at the height of his fame as one of Germany’s then most-played composers. Its dedication to Camille Saint-Saëns shows his opposition to the rampant German disapproval of France and its music representatives in the wake of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870/71. The second version of the sonata op. 14, composed in the fall of 1881, had only the opus number in common with the earlier version. In this late work Raff had created an entirely new sonata.