Piano trio

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 group. It is one of the most common forms found in classical chamber music. The term can also refer to a group of musicians who regularly play this repertoire together; for a number of well-known piano trios, see below.


Works titled "Piano Trio" tend to be in the same overall shape as a sonata. Initially this was in the three movement form, though some of Haydn's have two movements. With the early 19th century, particularly Beethoven, this genre was felt to be more appropriate to cast in the four movement form. Piano trios that are set in the Sonata tradition share the general concerns of such works for their era, and often are reflective directly of symphonic practice with individual movements laid out according to the composer's understanding of the sonata form.

In the Classical period, home music making made the piano trio a very popular genre for arrangements of other works. For example Beethoven transcribed his first two symphonies for piano trio. Thus a large number of works exist for the arrangement of piano, violin and violoncello which are not generally titled or numbered as piano trios, but which are nonetheless part of the over all genre. These include single movements as well as sets of variations such as Beethoven's Variations on ‘Ich bin der Schneider Kakadu’ Op. 121a and Variations in E flat major Op. 44.

After the classical era, works for piano and two instruments continue to be written which are not presented as in the sonata tradition, or are arrangements of other works. Many of these individual works are popular on concert programs, for example Suk's Elegie.

For individual articles treating works for piano trio, see [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Compositions_for_piano_trio Category:Compositions for piano trio] .

The role of the three instruments

The piano trios of the Classical era, notably those of Haydn, are dominated by the piano part. [Wheelock (1999 115)] The violin only plays the melody a certain amount of the time, and is often doubled by the piano when it does. The cello part is very much subordinated, usually just doubling the bass line in the piano. It is thought that this practice was quite intentional on Haydn's part and was related to the sonority of the instruments of Haydn's day: the piano was fairly weak and "tinkling" in tone, and benefited from the tonal strengthening of other instrumentsFact|date=August 2007. Mozart's earlier trios are also rather dominated by the piano part.

With time, a new ideal of piano trio composition arose, in which each of the three instruments was supposed to contribute equally to the music. This is seen, for instance, in Beethoven's trios, and was likely in part the result of the increase in the power and sonority of the piano that took place during Beethoven's career, making it more feasible for the piano to play independently in an ensemble. The new idea of equality was never implemented completely; the extent to which it is realized varies from one composition to the next, as well as among movements within a single composition. Certainly by the mid nineteenth century, all three instruments had been modified to have a very powerful sound, and each can hold its own in a modern ensemble.

The earlier trios are now frequently performed and recorded using authentic instruments, of the kind for which they were originally written. Such performances restore the sonic balance the composer would have expected, and have proven popular.

Playing piano trios

Piano trios, or works for piano trio, are considered chamber music. Since they involve three musicians who, in most works, contribute more or less equally to the music, the process of collaboration is frequently mentioned as being as important as other parts of musical preparation. The pianist must complement, rather than overwhelm, the other players, and the string players must understand when they have a melodic or harmonic role to play.

Among the piano trios, works by Haydn and Mozart are considered the best starting point for pianists new to chamber music.

The [http://www.acmp.net Amateur Chamber Music Players] publishes a contact list of musicians worldwide who play chamber music for their own enjoyment. They also publish lists of repertoire.

Example piano trios, extant and defunct

Among the best known of such groups are or have been:

*One consisting of Alfred Cortot, Jacques Thibaud and Pablo Casals, earlier in the 20th century
*The American-based Beaux Arts Trio, whose commitment to using the same players in every concert pioneered a new generation of similarly committed groups.
*The "Ax-Kim-Ma" trio, consisting of Emanuel Ax, Young Uck Kim, and Yo-Yo Ma (United States)
*Eroica Trio (United States)
*Ahn Trio (United States)
*Trio Fontenay (Germany)
*Suk Trio (Czech Republic)
*The Greenwich Trio (United Kingdom)
*The Oberlin Trio (United States)
*The Alma Trio (United States)

See also

* Piano
* Violin
* Violoncello
* Piano trio repertoire
* Triple concerto for violin, cello, and piano
* Clarinet-violin-piano trio
* Clarinet-viola-piano trio
* Clarinet-cello-piano trio
* Piano quartet
* Piano quintet
* Piano sextet
* Trio (jazz)



*Parakilas, James (1999) "Piano roles : three hundred years of life with the piano". New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
*Wheelock, Gretchen (1999) "The classical repertory revisited: instruments, players, and styles," in Parakilas (1999), pp. 109-131.

External links

* [http://home.wxs.nl/~cmr/haydn/catalog/piano.htm Haydn's piano works including the trios, their dates, inauthentic works, dedications, and other information]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • piano trio — /piænoʊ ˈtrioʊ/ (say peeanoh treeoh) noun 1. an ensemble of musical instruments including a piano and, usually, a violin and a cello. 2. a piece of music, usually in sonata form, written for such an ensemble …   Australian-English dictionary

  • piano trio — …   Useful english dictionary

  • Piano Trio No. 1 (Shostakovich) — Piano Trio No. 1 (Op. 8) in C minor for violin, violoncello and piano is a chamber composition by russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. It was created as a student work in 1923 and its last 16 bars were completed later by Shostakovich s pupil,… …   Wikipedia

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  • Piano Trio No. 4 (Dvořák) — The Piano Trio No. 4 in E Minor (also called Dumky trio from the subtitle Dumky) is a piece by Antonin Dvořák for piano, violin and cello. It is among the composer s most well known works. At the same time it is a prominent example for a piece of …   Wikipedia

  • Piano Trio No. 7 (Beethoven) — The Piano Trio No. 7 Op. 97 in B flat major by Ludwig van Beethoven is a piano trio for piano, violin, and violoncello published in 1811. It is commonly referred to as the Archduke Trio , because it was dedicated to the amateur pianist and… …   Wikipedia

  • Piano Trio (Ives) — The Trio for Violin, Violoncello, and Piano is a work by the American composer Charles Ives. According to Charles Ives’ wife, the three movements of the piano trio are a reflection of Ives’ college days at Yale. He started writing the piece in… …   Wikipedia

  • Piano Trio No. 2 (Schubert) — The Trio No. 2 in E flat major for piano, violin, and violoncello, D. 929, was one of the last compositions completed by Franz Schubert, dated November 1827. It was published by Probst as opus 100 in late 1828, shortly before the composer s death …   Wikipedia

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