18 Dec 2020

BEETHOVEN: Piano Trio in C minor, Op.1, No. 3

by Brant Bayless

Before Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) cashed in (or perhaps sold out!) with the aforementioned battle symphony in a box, he was a fiercely talented youngster trying to make a name for himself in Vienna. His Opus one, a set of three piano trios, is dedicated to the composer’s patron Prince Lichnowsky. The third of these trios includes all the hallmarks that make Beethoven’s music so gripping. These are familiar characteristics to listeners now, but imagine hearing the first performance at the Prince’s house in 1795: the pathos of c minor, the extended (compared to Haydn, for instance) development of thematic cells, and the stunningly inventive and virtuosic theme and variation movement. Keeping a conventional Minuet movement instead of a revolutionary Scherzo is one of this work’s few nods to tradition. The composer himself must have realized and loved its quintessentially Beethoven characteristics, because he re-composed this work in 1817 as the String Quintet, Op. 104.

Ludwig van Beethoven