COMPOSED BY

Ludwig van Beethoven (Dec 1770 - Mar 1827) in 1793

DURATION

Appoximately 30 minutes (total 4 movements)

Instrumentation

Piano Trio​ (Violin, Cello, Piano)

WHAT'S 'OP'?

'Op' = 'Opus Number'. An opus number is the number assigned for a piece or work, in the approximate order in which a composer wrote something. It helps us to understand the year that the music was composed and help to identify classical music that has very general titles.​

WHAT'S PIANO TRIO?

A piano trio is a group of piano and two other instruments, usually a violin and a cello, or a piece of music written for such a number. Commonly found in classical chamber music.

SUMMARY OF THE COMPOSITION

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.

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.

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.

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.

WHO IS ... LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN?

Please refer to our previous article about him – click here.

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