Friedrich Kuhlau

Friedrich Kuhlau (1786-1832)

Nationality: German | Danish
Born: September 11, 1786, Uelzen Died: March 12, 1832, Copenhagen (age 45)

Grand Trio in G major, Op. 119

(for for two flutes (or flute and cello) and piano)
7:29 I. Allegro moderato
3:43 II. Adagio patetico
4:49 III. Rondo. Allegro
Duration: 18 minutes (approximately)
Published: 1832, Bonn: Simrock / Paris: Farrenc (age 45-46)
4 recordings, 6 videos
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Jean-Pierre Rampal, Claudi Arimany, John Steele Ritter
I. Allegro moderato
Jean-Pierre Rampal, Claudi Arimany, John Steele Ritter
II. Adagio patetico
Jean-Pierre Rampal, Claudi Arimany, John Steele Ritter
III. Rondo. Allegro
Trio A Piacere
Peter-Lukas Graf, Gaby Pas-Van Riet, Bruno Canino
Chinook Trio
From Edition Silvertrust

Friedrich Kuhlau One of Friedrich Kuhlau's last works, written in 1831, was his Grand Trio in G Major, Op.119. It was originally for two flutes and piano but Kuhlau, himself, arranged the second flute part for cello or bassoon. This gives the cello or bassoon a greater role than one normally finds in trio music of this period, elevating it to an equal partner with the other instruments instead of barely beyond the bass line as is the case with most Classical and early Romantic trios. His publisher added a violin part in place of the first flute so that the work could be played by the standard piano trio. Kuhlau's experience in opera composition is evident here in the song-like quality of the melodies and the coloratura-like technique given to all of the instruments. In the opening movement, Allegro moderato, the sentimental main theme is introduced by the piano. In the second movement, Adagio patetico, the Hungarian sounding middle section is particularly noteworthy. The finale is an upbeat Rondo.

Friedrich Kuhlau (1786-1832), often called the “Beethoven of the Flute”, is well-known to flute players, if few others, for the many fine pieces that he composed for that instrument. Though it is generally assumed, by those who have heard of him, that he was a flute virtuoso, ironically, he never played the instrument. Born in Germany, after being blinded in one eye in a freak street accident, he studied piano in Hamburg. In 1810, he fled to Copenhagen to avoid conscription in the Napoleonic Army, which overwhelmed the many small principalities and duchies of northern Germany, and in 1813 he became a Danish citizen. Outside of several lengthy trips which he took, he resided there until his death. During his lifetime, he was known primarily as a concert pianist and composer of Danish opera, but was responsible for introducing many of Beethoven’s works, which he greatly admired, to Copenhagen audiences.

Considering that his house burned down destroying all of his unpublished manuscripts, he was a prolific composer leaving more than 200 published works in most genres. Beethoven, whom Kuhlau knew personally, exerted the greatest influence upon his music. Interestingly, few of Beethoven’s contemporaries showed greater understanding or ability to assimilate what the great man was doing than Kuhlau. Certainly with regard to form, Kuhlau was clearly able to make sense and use what Beethoven was doing in something as advanced as his Middle Period. Thus, for those encountering his chamber music for the first time, there is always a surprise at how fine the music is structurally and also how well he handles the instruments. Beyond this, he definitely had, like Mozart, Schubert or Hummel, a gift for wonderful melodies which bubble forth from his music effortlessly.

© Edition Silvertrust. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Related Composers

1800 Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) Johann Hummel (1778-1837) Friedrich Kuhlau (1786-1832) Franz Schubert (1797-1828) Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
friend, colleague
Nationality: German
Baptized: December 17, 1770, Bonn Died: March 26, 1827, Vienna (age 56)