All About Ludwig van Beethoven

Information on Beethoven, his life, his music and classical sheet music

Best 5 Beethoven Books on Amazon

1.Beethoven: The Universal Composer by Edmund Morris

2.Beethoven by Maynard Solomon

3.Beethoven: The Music and the Life by Lewis Lockwood

4.Late Beethoven: Music, Thought, Imagination by Maynard Solomon

5.Beethoven as I Knew Him by Anton Felix Schindler

Classical Sheet Music Downloads at Virtual Sheet Music

Beethoven's Trios for string instruments, wind instruments and for mixed ones

A Step Forward

When he was living in Bonn, Beethoven was especially attracted by the sonorities of the chamber music. We could hence conclude that the beginnings of Beethoven’s creation are marked by numerous attempts to establish the perfect sonorities of chamber music.

In 1785, Beethoven composes three quartets (C major, E flat major and D major) for piano, violin and cello, the role of the piano being more than predominant. They are justly considered by Alsvang piano sonatas with a three-instrument accompaniment. This formula does not satisfy him, so he will later eliminate the viola attempting a formula with a piano trio (piano, violin and cello). He thus composes in 1795 in Vienna three works considered to be op. 1, i.e. Trio in E flat major, Trio in G major and Trio in C minor. They were presented at the court of prince Lichnowski, Haydn being one of the people invited at that time. He had some reserves with regard to the third trio and advised Beethoven not to publish it as such. Even at that time, Beethoven’s creativity and originality was explicitly evident. On this occasion Haydn is said to have exclaimed: "You give me the impression of a man with more than one head, more than one heart and more than one soul!" (Alsvang, Beethoven, 1961).

The music for wind instruments was very popular at the time, so up to the end of the century, Beethoven composed many works with numerous elements of novelty in the field. A first example would be the Octet in E flat major for 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 fagots and 2 horns, then three Duets for clarinet and fagot, a Trio for 2 oboes and English horn, a Sextet for 2 horns and a string quartet, a Sextet for 2 clarinets, 2 fagots and 2 horns, then a Quintet for piano, oboe, clarinet and cello op. 16 and a Trio in B flat major for piano, clarinet and cello op. 11.

But the work that was to remain most famous in this respect is the Septet in E flat major for clarinet, horn, fagot, violin, viola, cello and double bass op. 20 (1800), a work considered to be a land mark of Beethoven’s creation. Experimentation with wind instruments was over. From now on, these instruments will appear only as a part of symphonic works.

With the three trios, op. 9, for string instruments, composed in 1798 (G major, D major and C minor), Beethoven goes through a preliminary stage in the approach of the string quartet. Starting now, the composer’s chamber music will illustrate two divergent fields: the string quartet on one hand and the music for piano and string instruments on the other hand.

  1. Trios for string instruments, wind instruments and for mixed ones
    1. For violin, viola and cello
      • Trio in E flat major, op. 3
      • Trio in G major, op. 9 no. 1
      • Trio in D major, op. 9 no. 2
      • Trio in C minor, op. 9 no. 3
      • Trio in D major, op. 8 "The Serenade"
    2. For piano, violin and cello
      • Trio in E flat major, op. 1 no. 1
      • Trio in G major, op. 1 no. 2
      • Trio in C minor, op. 1 no. 3
      • Trio in D major, op. 70 no. 1
      • Trio in E flat major op. 70 no. 2
      • Trio in B flat major op. 97
    3. For piano, clarinet and cello
      • Trio in B major op. 11
    4. For flute, violin and viola
      • Serenade in D major, op. 25
    5. For two oboes and horn
      • Trio in C major, op. 87
  2. String quintets (two violins, two violas, one cello)
    • Quintet in E flat major op. 4
    • Quintet in C major, op. 29
    • Quintet in C minor, op. 104
    • Fuga in D major, op. 137
  3. Other ensembles
    • Sextet for two clarinets two horns, two fagots in E flat major, op. 71
    • March for two clarinets, two horns, two fagots
    • Septet for violin, viola, cello, double bass, clarinet, horn and fagot in E flat major, op. 20
    • Sextet for two violins, viola, cello and two horns in E flat major, op. 81 b
    • Octet for two oboes, two clarinets, two horns and two fagots in E flat major, op. 103
    • Rondino for two oboes, two clarinets, two horns and two fagots in E flat major

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