String trio

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The Trio Broz during a concert for the Harare Festival of Arts 2008 TrioBroz.jpg
The Trio Broz during a concert for the Harare Festival of Arts 2008

A string trio is a group of three string instruments or a piece written for such a group. The term is generally used with reference to works of chamber music from the Classical period to the present. From at least the 19th century on, the term "string trio" with otherwise unspecified instrumentation normally refers to the combination violin, viola and cello (cf "string quartet", "piano trio" etc.). This is how the term is used by major catalogs,[ vague ] including IMSLP.



The earliest string-trio form, found in the early Classical period, consisted of two violins and a cello, a grouping which had grown out of the Baroque trio sonata, while over the course of the 19th century the string trio scored for violin, viola, and cello came to be the predominant type ( Tilmouth and Smallman 2001 ).

Beginning in the second half of the 18th century, although the trio configuration for two violins and cello was not wholly abandoned in classical chamber music (even during the 19th century), the scoring for violin, viola, and cello began to take precedence. Joseph Haydn appears to have been the first composer to use this combination ( Tilmouth and Smallman 2001 ), though he was soon emulated by Luigi Boccherini ( Kennedy 1994 ).

Pieces for the combination of two violins and viola are often referred to as 'terzetti' after Antonín Dvořák's particularly celebrated composition for the line-up.[ citation needed ]

List of string trios

Violin, viola, cello

Johann Georg Albrechtsberger (1736–1809)
  • Divertimento in C major
  • Divertimento in F major
  • Sonata I in C major
  • Sonata II in E major[ vague ]
  • Terzetto in C major, Op. 9a, No. 1
  • Terzetto in A major, Op. 9a, No. 2
  • Terzetto in F major, Op. 9a, No. 3
  • Terzetto in D major, Op. 9a, No. 4
  • Terzetto in B major, Op. 9a, No. 5
  • Terzetto in E major, Op. 9a, No. 6
Georges Aperghis (b. 1945)Faux mouvement (1995)
J.S. Bach (1685–1750) Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 (1741) (Arr. by Dmitry Sitkovetsky, in memoriam Glenn Gould )
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)
Wilhelm Berger (1861–1911)String Trio in G minor, Op. 69
Lennox Berkeley (1903–1989)Trio for strings, Op. 19 (1944)
Howard Blake (b. 1938)String Trio, Op. 199
Luigi Boccherini (1743–1805)String Trios, G 95–100 and G 107–112
Carlos Chávez (1899–1978)Invención II (1965)
Friedrich Cerha (1926–)9 Bagatellen (2008)

Zebra Trio (2010)

Jean Cras (1879–1932)Trio pour violon, alto et violoncelle (1926)
Matthew Davidson (b. 1964)Music for String Trio (2006) ( Davidson n.d. )
Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf (1739–1799)
  • Divertimento in D major
  • Sonatas a tre, Op. 1, Nos. 1–6, k. 200–205
  • Sonatas, Op. 2, Nos. 1–6, k. 212_17
Ernő Dohnányi (1877–1960) Serenade in C major, Op. 10
Gottfried von Einem (1918–1996)
    • String Trio, Op. 74
    • String Trio (fragment without opus)
Anders Eliasson (1947–2013)Trio per archi "Ahnungen" (2013)
George Enescu (1881–1955)Aubade, for violin, viola, and cello (Allegretto grazioso)
Karlheinz Essl (b. 1960)à trois/seul (1998)
Joseph Leopold Eybler (1765–1846)
    • String Trio Op. 2 in C major HV 197
    • String Trio in E flat major (fragment) HV 248
Magdeleine Boucherit le Faure (1879–1960)Impressions. Suite for Violin, Viola and Cello. Paris: Éditions Salabert, 1933.
Brian Ferneyhough (b. 1943)String Trio (1995)
Jean Françaix (1912–1997)String Trio in C major, Op. 2
Robert Fuchs (1847–1927)String Trio in A major, Op. 94
Joseph Gehot  [ de ] (1756–1820)String Trios, Op. 2, Nos. 1–6
Yefim Golyshev (1897–1970)String Trio, Zwölftondauer-Komplexe (twelve-tone-duration complex) (1925)
Jorge Grundman (b. 1961)
    • String Trio No. 1 in A major
    • String Trio No. 2 in G major
    • String Trio No. 3 in C major
Sofia Gubaidulina (b. 1931)String Trio
John Harbison (b. 1938)String Trio (2013)
Joseph Haydn (1732–1809)String Trio in B major, Hob. V:8
Swan Hennessy (1866–1929)Petit trio celtique, Op. 52 (1921)
Heinrich von Herzogenberg (1843–1900)String Trios, Op. 27, Nos. 1 & 2
Paul Hindemith (1895–1963)
    • String Trio No. 1, Op. 34
    • String Trio No. 2
    • Des kleinen Elektromusikers Lieblinge
Gilad Hochman (b. 1982)Brief Memories for String Trio (2004) ( Hochman n.d. ).
Franz Anton Hoffmeister (1754–1812)Terzetto Scholastico Streichtrio
Vagn Holmboe (1909–1996)Gioco (Game) for string trio (1983)
Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778–1837)
    • String Trio no. 1 in E major
    • String Trio no. 2 in G major
André Jolivet (1905–1974)Suite for String trio
Gideon Klein (1919–1945)String Trio (1944)
Zoltán Kodály (1882–1967)Intermezzo-Allegretto
Hans Krása (1899–1944)
    • TANEC, for string trio
    • Passacaglia and Fugue, for string trio
Ernst Krenek (1900–1991)
    • String Trio, Op. 118
    • String Trio Parvula Corona Musicalis: ad honorem Johannis Sebastiani Bach, Op. 122
    • String Trio in 12 Stations, Op. 235
Frank Martin (1890–1974)Trio (1936)
Donald Martino (1931–2005)String Trio (1954)
Bohuslav Martinů (1890–1959)
    • String Trio No. 1, H. 136 (1923)
    • String Trio No. 2, H. 238 (1934)
Grace-Evangeline Mason (b. 1994)Into the Abyss, I Throw Roses (2018)
Siegfried Matthus (b. 1934)Windspiele, for string trio
Erkki Melartin (1875–1937)String Trio Op.133 (1926?)
Darius Milhaud (1892–1974)
    • Sonatine à trois, Op. 221b (1940)
    • String Trio, Op. 274 (1947)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791)
Ernst Naumann (1832–1910)Trio in D major, Op. 12
Ștefan Niculescu (1927–2008)
    • String Trio (1957, rev. 1977)
    • Per Tre (1985)
Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)String Trio (1990–91)
Václav Pichl (1741–1805)
    • String Trios, Op. 4, Nos. 1–6
    • Trios concertans, Op. 7, Nos. 1–6
Wayne Peterson (b. 1927)String Trio (2007)
Ignaz Pleyel (1757–1831)3 String Trios, B 401–403
Gerhard Präsent (b. 1957)Sounds Of Wood (1998)
Max Reger (1873–1916)
    • String Trio no. 1 in A minor, Op. 77b
    • String Trio No. 2 in D minor, Op. 141b
Carl Reinecke (1824–1910)String Trio in C minor, Op. 249
Wolfgang Rihm (b. 1952)Musik für drei Streicher (1977)
Alessandro Rolla (1757–1841)
    • String Trio in E major, Op. 11
    • String Trios, BI 341, 342, 343, 344, 346, 347, 348, 349, 351, 397, 405, 410
Guy Ropartz (1864–1955)Trio in A minor for Strings (1934–35)
Albert Roussel (1896–1937)String Trio, Op. 58
Kaija Saariaho (1952–)Cloud Trio (2009)
Ernest Sauter (1928–2013)
    • Trio no. 1 (1999)
    • Ballade (2001)
    • Trio No. 3, Trois mouvements contrastés (2007)
Giacinto Scelsi (1905–1988)Trio for strings (1958)
Alfred Schnittke (1934–1998)String Trio (1985)
Arnold Schoenberg (1874–1951)String Trio, Op. 45 (1946)
Franz Schubert (1797–1828)
Jean Sibelius (1865–1957)
    • Suite (Trio) in A major (1889, revised 1912)
    • Trio in G minor (1893–94)
Otto Siegl  [ de ] (1896–1978)
    • Divertimento, op. 44 (1924)
    • Trio in B major, op. 130 (1943)
Robert Simpson (1921–1997)String Trio (1987)
Nikos Skalkottas (1904–1949)String Trio No. 2 (1935)
Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928–2007) Hoffnung (2007) ( Günther 2008 )
Sergei Taneyev (1856–1915)String Trio in D major (1880)
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893)Allegretto moderato (1863–64)
Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887–1959)String Trio (1945)
Graham Waterhouse (b. 1962)
Julian Wagstaff (b. 1970)In Extremis (2011)()
Rolf Wallin (1957–)Sway (2010)
Anton Webern (1883–1945)
    • Satz for String Trio, Op. posth.
    • String Trio (1927), his first instrumental work using the twelve tone technique
Egon Wellesz (1885–1974)
    • String Trio, Op. 86 (1962)
    • Four Works for string trio, Op. 105 (1969, second version 1971)
John Woolrich (b. 1954)String Trio (1996)
Charles Wuorinen (b. 1938)String Trio (1968)
Iannis Xenakis (1922–2001)Ikhoor {Ιχώρ} (1978)
La Monte Young (b. 1935)Trio (1958)
Eugène Ysaÿe (1858–1931)Trio "Le Chimay"(1915)
Bernd Alois Zimmermann (1918–1970)Trio (1944)

Two violins, cello

Alexander Alyabyev (1787–1851)Variations on a Russian folk song
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)String Trio in E minor, Hess 29
Luigi Boccherini (1743–1805)
    • String Trios, G 77–94, 101–106, 113–36, 577–78 (for some of the trios, authorship is uncertain)
    • Divertimenti G 137–42 (authorship doubtful)
Alexander Borodin (1833–1887)String Trio in G minor on a Russian folk song
Siegfried Borris  [ de ] (1906–1987)Terzettino
Werner Egk (1901–1983)Trio in G minor
Joseph Gehot  [ de ] (1756–1820)String Trios, Op. 5, Nos. 1–6
Peter Hänsel (1770–1831)
    • String Trio in D major
    • String Trio in F major
    • String Trio in C major
    • Streichtrio in F major, Op. 40, No. 1
    • Streichtrio in G minor, Op. 40, No. 2
    • Streichtrio in E major, Op. 40, No. 3
Joseph Haydn (1732–1809)
    • String Trios, Hob. V:1–21 (except Hob. V:8)
    • String Trios, Hob. V:F1, D1, B1, G1, D3, A2, C1, C4 (authorship doubtful)
Franz Anton Hoffmeister (1754–1812)
    • 6 String Trios, Op. 22
    • 3 String Trios, Op. 37
    • 6 Trios Progressives, Op. 28
Wilhelm Killmayer (b. 1927)Trio for two violins and cello
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791)
Ignaz Pleyel (1757–1831)
    • 6 String Trios, B 404–409
    • 3 String Trios, B 410–12
    • 3 String Trios, B 413–15
Johann Mederitsch  [ de ] (1752–1835)Fantasia Terza
Gerhard Präsent (b. 1957)
    • Big Ben for string trio (2012)
    • Tres Dados for string trio (2013–15)
    • A-Suite for string trio (2018)
Joseph Schuster (1748–1812)String Trio in A minor
Johann Baptist Wanhal (1739–1813)
    • String Trios, Op. 5, Nos. 1–6
    • String Trios, Op. 12, Nos. 1–6
    • String Trios, Op. 17, Nos. 1–6

Two violins, viola

Frank Bridge (1879–1941)Rhapsody Trio (1928)
Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904)
Robert Fuchs (1847–1927)
    • 2 Terzetten, Op. 61
    • Terzett in C-sharp minor, Op. 107
Zoltán Kodály (1882–1967)
    • Serenade, for two violins and viola
David Ludwig (b. 1974)Rule of Three for two violins and viola (2016)
Sergei Taneyev (1856–1915)String Trio in D major, Op. 21 (1907)

Alternative scoring

F.L. Gaßmann (1729–1774)
    • String Trio in E major, for 2 violas and cello
    • String Trio in B major, for 2 violas and cello
Sergei Taneyev (1856–1915)String Trio in E major, Op. 31, for violin, viola and violotta
John Zorn (b. 1953)Walpurgisnacht (2004) for violin, viola and double bass

See also


  1. Arrangements of 6 Preludes and Fugues by J. S. and W. F. Bach, K. 404a (1782) is sometimes attributed to Mozart, which is doubtful.


Further reading

Related Research Articles

Classical period (music) Genre of Western music (c.1730-1820)

The Classical period was an era of classical music between roughly 1730 and 1820.

In music, a quartet or quartette is an ensemble of four singers or instrumental performers; or a musical composition for four voices or instruments.


A symphony is an extended musical composition in Western classical music, most often written by composers for orchestra. Although the term has had many meanings from its origins in the ancient Greek era, by the late 18th century the word had taken on the meaning common today: a work usually consisting of multiple distinct sections or movements, often four, with the first movement in sonata form. Symphonies are almost always scored for an orchestra consisting of a string section, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments which altogether number about 30 to 100 musicians. Symphonies are notated in a musical score, which contains all the instrument parts. Orchestral musicians play from parts which contain just the notated music for their own instrument. Some symphonies also contain vocal parts.


Sonata, in music, literally means a piece played as opposed to a cantata, a piece sung. The term evolved through the history of music, designating a variety of forms until the Classical era, when it took on increasing importance. Sonata is a vague term, with varying meanings depending on the context and time period. By the early 19th century, it came to represent a principle of composing large-scale works. It was applied to most instrumental genres and regarded—alongside the fugue—as one of two fundamental methods of organizing, interpreting and analyzing concert music. Though the musical style of sonatas has changed since the Classical era, most 20th- and 21st-century sonatas still maintain the same structure.

String quartet Musical ensemble of four string players

A string quartet is a musical ensemble consisting of four string players – two violin players, a viola player and a cellist – or a musical composition written to be performed by such a group. The string quartet is one of the most prominent chamber ensembles in classical music; most major composers from the mid 18th century onwards having written string quartets.

Chamber music Form of classical music composed for a small group of instruments

Chamber music is a form of classical music that is composed for a small group of instruments—traditionally a group that could fit in a palace chamber or a large room. Most broadly, it includes any art music that is performed by a small number of performers, with one performer to a part. However, by convention, it usually does not include solo instrument performances.

Piano quintet

In classical music, a piano quintet is a work of chamber music written for piano and four other instruments, most commonly a string quartet. The term also refers to the group of musicians that plays a piano quintet. The genre particularly flourished during the nineteenth century.

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.

String Quartet No. 20 (Mozart)

The String Quartet in D major, K. 499, was written in 1786 in Vienna by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It was published by – if not indeed written for – his friend Franz Anton Hoffmeister. Because of this, the quartet has acquired the nickname Hoffmeister. Hoffmeister had started issuing a series of chamber-music publications in 1785, including Mozart's K. 499 as well as Joseph Haydn's Op. 42.

Concertino is the diminutive of concerto, thus literally a small or short concerto.

Antonín Vranický

Antonín Vranický, Germanized as Anton Wranitzky, and also seen as Wranizky, was a Czech violinist and composer of the 18th century. He was the half brother of Pavel Vranický.

The Divertimento in E major, K. 563, is a string trio, written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1788, the year in which he completed his last three symphonies and his "Coronation" Piano Concerto. It is widely regarded as separate from his other divertimenti.

String Quartet No. 19 (Mozart)

The String Quartet No. 19 in C Major, K. 465 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, nicknamed "Dissonance" on account of its unusual slow introduction, is perhaps the most famous of his quartets. It is the last in the set of six quartets composed between 1782 and 1785 that he dedicated to Joseph Haydn.

The String Quintet No. 3 in C major, K. 515 was written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Like all of Mozart's string quintets, it is a "viola quintet" in that it is scored for string quartet and an extra viola.

The six String Quartets, Op. 76 by Joseph Haydn were composed in 1797 or 1798 and dedicated to the Hungarian count Joseph Georg von Erdődy (1754–1824). They form the last complete set of string quartets that Haydn composed. At the time of the commission, Haydn was employed at the court of Prince Nicolaus Esterházy II and was composing the oratorio The Creation as well as Princess Maria Hermenegild Esterházy's annual mass.

String section Section of a larger symphony orchestra composed of string musicians

The string section is composed of bowed instruments belonging to the violin family. It normally consists of first and second violins, violas, cellos, and double basses. It is the most numerous group in the typical Classical orchestra. In discussions of the instrumentation of a musical work, the phrase "the strings" or "and strings" is used to indicate a string section as just defined. An orchestra consisting solely of a string section is called a string orchestra. Smaller string sections are sometimes used in jazz, pop and rock music and in the pit orchestras of musical theatre.

The String Quintet No. 1 in B flat major, K. 174, was written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in December 1773. Unlike Mozart's other viola quintets, which are scored for two violins, two violas and cello, this early work is scored for two violins, two violas and basso.

The String Quintet No. 2 in C minor, K. 406/516b, was written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1787. Like all of Mozart's string quintets, it is a "viola quintet" in that it is scored for string quartet and an extra viola. Unlike his other string quintets, however, the work was not originally written for strings. Having completed the two string quintets K. 515 and K. 516, Mozart created a third by arranging his Serenade No. 12 for Winds in C minor K. 388/384a, written in 1782 or 1783 as a string quintet. Although by then Mozart was entering each new work into his catalogue of compositions, he did not enter this quintet, perhaps because it was an arrangement rather than a new work.

String Quartets, Op. 20 (Haydn)

The six string quartets opus 20 by Joseph Haydn are among the works that earned Haydn the sobriquet "the father of the string quartet". The quartets are considered a milestone in the history of composition; in them, Haydn develops compositional techniques that were to define the medium for the next 200 years.

James Francis Brown is an English composer. He studied composition with the Viennese émigré Hans Heimler and then at the Royal Academy of Music, London.