BEETHOVEN Piano Trio, Op. 1, No. 3

Piano Trio


Ludwig van Beethoven (Dec 1770 - Mar 1827)

Composed In



30 minutes


Piano Trio​ (Violin, Cello, Piano)


The third trio was Beethoven’s first published work in C minor. Instead of a scherzo, this piece has a minuet in the third movement. Haydn once advised Beethoven to publish only the first two trios, but Beethoven suspected jealousy behind it. For Beethoven, this trio was the best amongst the three trios. He later reworked the third trio into C minor string quintet, Op. 104.


About the Composition

Allegro Con Brio

The first movement begins with a string of short themes which will be developed in the next section, at times in whole and at times in parts.

Andante Cantabile Con Variazioni

This movement is a set of 5 variations on a cantabile theme in the utmost simplicity. The piano melody in the first variation has an intense lyricism which makes it more memorable than the theme itself. In the second variation, the roles of the 3 instruments interchange in great frequency, resulting in a novel instrumental texture. In the third variation, the strings’ pizzicato notes play against the fast notes of the piano. The fourth variation is in E-flat minor, and this dark key enhances the sighing accents, the unsettling syncopations and the chromatic progressions. The staccato notes of the piano and the double-stops of the violin enliven the fifth and last variations, leading into the coda which recapitulates the motives heard separately earlier.

Menuetto. Quasi Allegro

The main theme in this movement is related to the agitated motive of the first movement but with a sharper relief. As the tonality changes from a minor to a major, the mood gradually brightens up. The piano plays in fast runs, alternating with a simple and engaging melody of the cello.


The final movement starts with a few introductory measures, and the violin intones the main theme in nervousness and tension. Subsequently, the insistent minor thirds develop maniacally, followed by a relaxing second theme that brings only temporary calm. This piece ends with the most astonishing coda.


Fun Facts about the Composer

  • Hated giving piano lessons, only making exceptions for truly talented students, or young attractive women regardless of talent.
  • His father was an alcoholic, and would often beat and abuse him for playing wrong notes.
  • Suffered from illnesses throughout his life, and most notably, deafness.
  • After losing his hearing, he still had his perfect pitch and continued composing until his death.
  • Had a notoriously bad temper, often stopping his performances if he noticed anyone in the audience talking.

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