Triple Concerto (Beethoven)

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The Triple Concerto op. 56 is a concerto in C major for piano , violin , violoncello and orchestra by Ludwig van Beethoven .


Beethoven wrote the Triple Concerto around 1804. The violinist may have been Carl August Seidler or Georg August Seidler , while Anton Kraft was to take over the cello part. It is generally assumed that Beethoven intended his piano student Archduke Rudolf of Austria to be the piano soloist and that the piano part was accordingly not too demanding. This information is based on a statement made by Beethoven's temporary secretary and later biographer Anton Schindler . Musicologist Susan Kagan thinks this assumption is unlikely; she rather suspects that Beethoven intended himself to be the piano soloist. As Sieghard Brandenburg added, Beethoven did not get to know the Archduke until 1808.

The Triple Concerto was written at the same time as Beethoven's 3rd Symphony (“Eroica”), the 5th Symphony , the Piano Sonata No. 23 (“Appassionata”) and Beethoven's only opera Fidelio . The work was dedicated to Prince Franz Joseph Maximilian von Lobkowitz and published in 1807.

To the music

The Triple Concerto shows similarities to the genre of the piano trio and the Sinfonia concertante , as cultivated by Johann Christian Bach , for example , but also by Haydn and Mozart . This is also clear in two forerunner works from Beethoven's pen: Beethoven sketched the unfinished romance cantabile in E minor for flute , bassoon , piano and orchestra in 1786/87 ; this was published in Wiesbaden in 1952. The Concertante in D major, begun in 1802 and intended for a concert planned for spring 1803 but never materialized, also remained unfinished . With its piano trio instrumentation, the Concertante would have been designed for the same instrumentation as the Triple Concerto.

The Triple Concerto follows the same scheme as Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 . In comparison with its Piano Concerto No. 3 , however, there is a difference: While in Piano Concerto No. 3 the orchestral part was given greater weight than was customary up to that point, in the Triple Concerto the soloist's part is emphasized.

Due to the preponderance of the cello over the violin, the triple concerto takes on the character of a cello concerto .


A flute , two oboes , two clarinets , two bassoons , two French horns , two trumpets , timpani , strings

First movement: Allegro

Since the soloist's role in the Triple Concerto is very pronounced, its first movement is not laid out in the usual sonata form , but as a ritornello , cf. however, the terms “exposition” and “recapitulation” used below.

The movement is introduced by a recitative-like motif of the basses and cellos. The remaining strings join this motif in measure 7 and the two horns in measure 12. The first tutti entry of the orchestra (bar 19) is followed by the exposition , which contains two variably connected secondary themes on the dominant . Then the cello, which is accompanied by violins and violas, sounds in the tenor position the opening of the movement as the main theme. After the cello has opened the solo exposition, this time without accompaniment, the theme is taken up first by the violin (bar 85, together with the horns) and then by the piano (bar 97). The end of the movement resembles, with elements of openwork work in the transition to the recapitulation and with ascending scales in the coda, Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3, composed about four years earlier .

Second movement: Largo

The Tutti character of the first movement is almost completely receded in the second. After the presentation of the cantable theme by the solo cello accompanied by strings, all solo instruments sound from bars 25 to 39, only accompanied by solo winds. Due to the cast, the middle section of the movement takes on chamber music character, while the string orchestra is used in the final section, now without the participation of the wind instruments. The end of the movement follows the concert's finale in an attacca transition.

Third movement: Rondo alla Polacca

The finale ties in with the middle movement of the concert with the solo cello. The movement stands out due to the smooth transitions between ritornello and couplets as well as the routine transition of the piano trio into the unison scales of the final bars.


The Triple Concerto was premiered on February 18, 1808 in the Leipzig Gewandhaus . Often the first public performance is mistakenly stated to be a concert in May 1808 in Vienna. The public reaction to the concert was rather restrained, so that the next known performances of the work did not take place until 1820 and 1830.

For the musicologist Leon Plantinga , the triple concerto is an "interlude in the French manner," that is, an interlude in the French style . Plantinga also certified the work "[A] certain indistinctness of expression and a kind of sponginess of construction," that is, a certain vagueness of expression and a somewhat spongy construction .


supporting documents

  • Christoph Hahn, Siegmar Hohl (eds.), Bertelsmann Konzertführer , Bertelsmann Lexikon Verlag, Gütersloh / Munich 1993, ISBN 3-570-10519-9
  • Harenberg concert guide , Harenberg Kommunikation, Dortmund, 1998, ISBN 3-611-00535-5
  • Sven Hiemke (Ed.): Beethoven - Handbuch , Bärenreiter-Verlag Karl Vötterle GmbH & Co. KG, Kassel, 2009, ISBN 978-3-476-02153-3 , pp. 153f.
  • A new Sinfonia concertante: The Triple Concert , in: Lewis Lockwood : Beethoven: His Music - His Life. Metzler, 2009, pp. 185-187

further reading

  • Christian Martin Schmidt : Concerto in C major for piano, violin, violoncello and orchestra "Triple Concerto" op. 56 , in: Interpretations 1994 , Volume 1, pp. 400–409

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Harenberg Konzertführer , Harenberg Kommunikation, Dortmund, 1998, p. 95
  2. ^ A b Lewis Lockwood : Beethoven: His Music - His Life. Metzler, 2009, p. 186
  3. Susan Kagan : Archduke Rudolph. Beethoven's Patron, Pupil, and Friend. His Life and Music , Stuyvesant, New York 1988, 1988, p. 3
  4. ^ Sieghard Brandenburg : The Beethoven manuscripts in the music manuscript of Archduke Rudolph , in: Zu Beethoven 3 1988, p. 141
  5. Twice Beethoven live from the Gewandhaus Leipzig ( Memento from July 13, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) on
  6. An orchestra with a history program of the Leipzig Gewandhaus p. 6
  7. ^ Leon Plantinga: Beethoven's Concertos. History, Style, Performance , New York, 1999
  8. ^ Leon Plantinga: Beethoven's Concertos. History, Style, Performance , New York, 1999, p. 161