Brahms: Trio for Violin, Horn & Piano/ Sonata No. 2

May 22, 2008 at 11:42 PM · Brahms: Trio for Violin, Horn & Piano/ Sonata No. 2

I've been asked to perform this piece this upcoming year. I've never heard or performed with this combination of instruments.

Does anyone know anything about this piece?

Replies (22)

May 23, 2008 at 01:26 AM · Debra; you'r talking of two different

pieces, the trio and the second sonata.

What should you perform?. Both?

The trio is a magnificent work IMO; one

of the best master did.There are several

recordings, but if you like classics

historicals, try to find the version

of 1933 by Aubrey Brian horn, Adolf Busch

violin and Rudolf Serkin piano.

May 23, 2008 at 01:42 AM · There's another recorded performance I've always liked. I forget the pianist and the horn player (who are very, very good). But the violinist is Artur Grumiaux, and it is a magical performance all round. The Brahms is positively haunting.

May 23, 2008 at 04:18 AM · It was probably 30 years ago that I participated in a performance of this wonderful trio.

From a recording you may not get a true balance of the instruments, so I would suggest that after funning through the piece, you record yourselves with a single mic (or have a coach listen) to see if your violin is balancing well against the other instruments. The violin overtones should come out through those of the horn, but of course, you will never drown out the horn.

You don't want to work too hard to get tone and volume, if you don't have to.


May 23, 2008 at 04:52 AM · Greetings,

the otehr master recording still available is Szigeti. This also has his last Brahms cocnerto (1956 I think) which I still regard as one of the most profound and thoughtful recordings of violin playing around. Actually not violin playing- despite all the flaws , he is so deeply into the music its beasuty in abstraction,



May 23, 2008 at 12:02 PM · These are 2 very different works. The sonata has beautiful melodies, while the trio is.... strange. Strange harnomies, strange key signatures, it's unlike any other brahms piece I've played before. Expect 2 very different views by Brahms as the harmonies in the trio are especially haunting in the slow movement.

May 23, 2008 at 02:16 PM · Debra: Check your e-mail

the Grumiaux version of the horn trio (Gyorgy Sebok on piano, Francis Orval on horn) is included in the Philips set of the complete Brahms trios featuring the Beaux Arts Trio for the other piano trios.

I have & really like the recording by Stephanie Chase, Steven Lubin & Lowell Greer on natural horn.

May 23, 2008 at 02:21 PM · Both are great pieces. Although in the trio, the violin could be easily overshadowed by the horn and piano and sound like a poor relation if the violinist didn't bring enough personality to his/her part.

May 23, 2008 at 02:25 PM · Lucky you! They are both very beautiful pieces.

My father played the horn and got me acquainted with the horn trio. The score looks daunting because there are so many flats -- and sharps, too. It helps to hear the piece, or to sing it, first, because the melodies and harmonies are just beautiful.

The recording by Ashkenazy, Perlman and Tuckwell isn't half bad.

May 23, 2008 at 02:48 PM · More recommendations:

Luba Edlina p.,Rotislav Dubinsky v.,Michael

Thomson h.

Franz Holetschek p.,Walter Barylli v.,Franz

Koch h.

May 23, 2008 at 03:14 PM · Thanks for all the comments and listening recommendations!

I was a little dubious about the instrumentation, but I'm starting to get excited about it. Although we (trio) hope to do both pieces we may only get to do the trio and not the Sonata.

Still I think it's going to be a blast!

May 23, 2008 at 08:18 PM · I ordered the International edition of Horn Trio recently and it came with an additional cello (horn) part - read through it with a cellist and violinist... it's better with horn...

I have an old LP with Dennis Brain playing horn but don't remember off hand the other players. It's wonderful!

May 27, 2008 at 01:52 PM · Brahm wrote the Trio in 1865, shortly after his mother died. The sad slow movement is regarded by some to reflect on that event. Brahms himself explained that he was inspired by the sun rising over the woods in the surroundings of Baden-Baden where he composed this trio. To enhance the feeling of nature he insisted on the use of a 'Waldorn', the type without valves.

Although this information did not help me in understanding this piece, (neither did the above mentioned performers) it may help you. Good Luck!

May 27, 2008 at 04:22 PM · very difficult horn part. also in strange keys which are really bad for the violin...6 flats somewhere if i remember right.

May 27, 2008 at 05:08 PM · Kevin - actually it has both six and seven flat sections. I almost had a heart attack when I saw that. LOL!

May 27, 2008 at 05:10 PM · That's interesting Tjin - that Brahms was thinking about nature when he wrote part of the trio.

I didn't get a sense of nature myself when I listened to it, but it's something interesting to keep in mind.

May 28, 2008 at 09:44 AM · The Horn Trio is, to my ears, one of the most beautiful as well as unusual pieces Brahms ever wrote. The movements do not follow the traditional order as one would expect in a sonata, as the beautiful first movement can only with many diffculties be explained as a sonata-form piece. The last one, however, is easily recognised as one of those. So, you have a four-movement sonata with the sonata-form movement in the end. (Elgar did that, too, in his 'cello concerto.)

Brahms preferred the traditional Waldhorn to any kind of valve horns, calling the latter ones "Blechbratschen" ("tin violas"). If you listen to the parts as they are introduced in movement 1, you will find that the more chromatic bits will appear in the violin. The parts are written so that balance issues between the instruments are minimized - special composer service, as found often in Brahms. Note, however, that in the German french horn tradition, the instrument is blown quite softly, with a remote and well-rounded kind of sound, and not at all trumpet-like as in the anglo-saxon tradition, as you would find in recordings by Denis Brain or his father Aubrey. Listen to Hermann Baumann, Marie Luise Neunecker or the famous Berlin-Phil french hornist of many decades, Seifert (present, e. g., on all Karajan recordings).

If I should characterise the single movements, I would say: First, dynamic development between two opposing melodies, with a cathartic ending; second, boisterous scherzo with strongly contrasting trio; third, mournful Adagio with a remote vision of consolation; fourth, energetic expression of newly found confidence, as foretold in the vision of the Adagio.

Make sure with your french hornist that the finale doesn't just sound like a hunting party -- there's much more to it!

The A-Major sonata comes forth as a kind and mellow piece, but it benefits much from an effort on the musician's part to find out its more shadowy corners. Brahms never is all-nice or all-depressive. The sonata was written after the fourth symphony and at the same time as the dark C-Minor piano trio.

The sonata has a constructivistic side as well -- all material is based on the opening three notes of the principal theme, a hook-shaped motive (a fourth in one direction, a second in the opposite -- it comes up inverted, read backwards etc.). In the development section of movement 1, Brahms exposes this motive quite openly and, as I think, irritatingly, as it abandons all melodic charme. This motive, actually, plays an important role in all three sonatas, as it had before in Schumann's violin sonatas (and later in Elgar's).



May 31, 2008 at 04:37 PM · Debra, the Trio for Piano, Violin, and Horn, Op. 40 is a fantastic work. I performed the first movement while I was working on my undergraduate degree, and in April 2002, I performed the whole trio for a benefit concert. As for the Sonata in A Major for Violin and Piano, Op. 100. I learned that work as an undergraduate also. And like the rest of Brahms Sonatas for violin and piano, it is a beautiful work. I hope you have a pianist and french horn player who are willing to eat and sleep Brahms for the next few months.

There is a VHS video of Itzhak Perlman and Daniel Barenboim performing all of the Brahms sonatas, and the Horn Trio is on it as well. I hope it got transferred and distributed on DVD.

In the mean time, have fun and fall in love with those glorious masterpieces.

May 31, 2008 at 08:24 PM · check out R Serkin, M. Tree and Myron Bloom

on Sony Classical...

June 1, 2008 at 07:41 AM · Played the 1st and last movts of the trio in college with a freaky Sigurd Rascher Sax disciple seeking good literature for alto....He was able to keep the intonation and tone compatible with the violin and piano....last movt has some perhaps unidiomatic sections for vln but it's a worthy practice.

June 1, 2008 at 08:01 AM · Anyone know the piece by Schumann for horn and piano, I think it might be called grand duo or something? It has a nice concluding movement (3rd or 4th mvnt) that I like. I want to play it on violin - I'll have to transpose.

June 2, 2008 at 02:52 PM · The Brahms Horn Trio is a wonderful work. I did it as an undergrad with a graduate horn player and a graduate pianist. It came with a cello part, and was great for me as it made me really get my spiccato down. It was worth all the work and alot of fun.

June 9, 2008 at 11:43 AM · Hi!

For anyone who is interested, here are the links to the perlman et. al. video

and the sheet music!


This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Shopping Guide Shopping Guide


Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine