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Learn about the piece:

Triple Concerto

Composed by

Ludwig van Beethoven



solo violin, solo cello, solo piano, 2 flute, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, strings

When asked by his pupil, the Archduke Rudolf of Austria, to compose a piano, violin, and cello concerto in 1803, Beethoven had no choice but to agree with his royal student’s request. The result was the Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Piano in C Major, op. 56, which elegantly showcases the piano in conjunction with virtuosic violin and cello passages.The accompanying orchestra supports the trio with poise and grandeur. Balancing a trio within a symphonic setting was a remarkable feat for Beethoven, ensuring soloistic moments are prevalent. With his artistic sensitivity, each voice in the trio contributes challenging solo lines while being beautifully supported by the powerful symphonic orchestra.

The Triple Concerto is separated into three movements, each showcasing vexing challenges. The first movement, “Allegro,” is the longest and the most musically rich out of the three. The movement begins with the cellos performing a cheerful theme in C Major in the low register. From there, the material ascends in register and is responded with the upper voices developing the theme. Moments later, the trio showcase their collaboration, displaying lyrical passages with unexpected dynamic contrasts. The second movement, “Largo,” is a beautiful pastoral response to the energetic first movement. The impassioned melody is transferred to the solo cello and is supported by the strings in the orchestra. The violin and piano enter the conversation by contributing their own tender responses to the hauntingly beautiful melody. A lively “Rondo alla Polacca” concludes the Triple Concerto with a comical, quasi-scherzo theme first stated by the solo cello. From there, the trio and orchestra alternate moments of technical prowess, culminating in a boisterous and lively conclusion in C Major.

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