Joseph Wölfl

Joseph Wölfl (1773-1812)

Nationality: Austrian
Born: December 24, 1773, Salzburg Died: May 21, 1812, London (age 38)

Piano Trio in c minor, Op. 23, No. 3

(for violin, cello and piano)
I. Allegro
II. Andante
III. Menuetto. Presto
IV. Finale. Allegretto
Duration: 28 minutes (approximately)
Composed: c. 1803 (age 29-30)
1 recording, 1 videos
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Balmas, Simpson, Colladant
From Edition Silvertrust

Joseph Wölfl Joseph Wölfl (1773-1812), (the name is often spelled Woelfl) was born in Salzburg. He studied violin, piano and composition there with Leopold Mozart (Wolfgang’s father) and Michael Haydn (Joseph’s brother). In 1790, he moved to Vienna where it is thought he briefly studied with Wolfgang Mozart. Wölfl became a virtuoso pianist and was sometimes considered to be Beethoven’s equal. It was on Wolfgang’s recommendation the Wölfl was able to procure a position with Count Michal Casimir Oginski as a piano teacher in Warsaw. During the political upheavals in Poland he returned to Vienna and then began a career as a touring concert pianist, eventually settling in Paris (1801-1805) and then London where he spent the rest of his life. Wölfl wrote operas, ballets, symphonies, works for piano, songs and quite a lot of chamber music, including some 25 string quartets, 3 string quintets, 15 standard piano trios and several others for various instrumental combinations with piano. In addition to this, he wrote dozens of sonatas and other works for violin and piano, flute and piano and harp and piano. Wölfl's music is of a very high quality and it would not be an exaggeration to say it the equal to Haydn's. It was often performed during his lifetime and for several decades thereafter when it inexplicably disappeared from concert stages.

The Piano Trio, Op.23 No.3 in c minor is the last of a set of three which were published in 1803 and completed the year before, while he was sojourning in Paris. The opening movement, Allegro, begins with a short hesitant introduction which leads to the main section, a Mozartean fluid affair, elegant but with much forward motion. The main subject of the second movement, Andante, sound rather like an aria. In the Haydnesque third movement, Menuetto, presto, bursts out of the gate at full speed and never lets up. The finale, Allegretto, though not so marked is a theme and set of interesting variations. Unlike the piano trios of Haydn and Mozart, where the cello is virtually an afterthought, here the cello is given a real part to play and is not just a double of the piano bass line.

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Related Composers

1800 Leopold Mozart (1719-1787) Michael Haydn (1737-1806) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) Joseph Wölfl (1773-1812) Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
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