1795 – 2: Beethoven: Trio for Two Oboes and English Horn, Op. 87

MONDAY, September 7, 2020 – 12:41 AM

Trio for Two Oboes and English Horn, Op. 87

My friend Louie pointed out to me that young Beethoven wrote trios for oboes and English horn, and to be honest I did not even know they existed. But then as I looked for his original selection, which was very early in his career, I ran into this and got confused. Did he write two of these things?

Yes he did, and the other is a on a Mozart theme from Don Giovanni and many variations. This one is in four movements.  The Opus number is totally meaningless.

  • 0: 01 – 1. Allegro, C major: This is by far the longest movement, taking up more than half the length of the whole trio.
  • 10:43 – II. Adagio cantabile, F major: There is no surprise here, because it is normal for the 2nd movement, when slow, to move to the IV chord, which is F major, called the “sub-dominant key”.
  • 15:55 – III. Menuetto -Allegro molto – Scherzo – Trio, C major: These arevery odd set of markings, because normally you have either a minuet or a scherzo, but not both. The scherzo is much faster, and later in his career Beethoven switched more and more to the faster scherzo for one of his fast movements. To me the labeling here appears to be a mistake, as if somehow the 3rd movement is marked as the “minuet movement” when it’s rather a scherzo, clearly.
  • 18:58 – IV.  Finale – Presto, C major: The last movement is typically fast, but usually in 2/4 or 4/4, and there is no surprise here.

What was Beethoven doing here?

From what I’ve read he was practicing writing for winds with the idea of using his knowledge later in big orchestral ideas. And why two oboes and and English horn? I have no idea, but the sound is fun.


3 thoughts on “1795 – 2: Beethoven: Trio for Two Oboes and English Horn, Op. 87

  1. I love this piece as I do Beethoven’s other oboe trio pieces. The combination of two oboes and one English horn work so well to counter each other. Beethoven’s other oboe pieces, trio and otherwise, are usually light like this one.

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