General information
Title CZSmyčcové trio č. 2
Subtitle CZpro housle, violu a violoncello
Title ENString Trio No. 2
Subtitle ENfor violin, viola and violoncello
Title DEStreichtrio Nr. 2
Subtitle DEfür Violine, Viola und Violoncello
Title FRTrio à cordes n° 2
Subtitle FRpour violon, alto et violoncelle
CategoryChamber Music
SubcategoryTrios without Piano
Halbreich number238
Parts of the composition (movements)1. Allegro; 2. Poco moderato - Vivo - Allegro ma non troppo
Durata15' 30''
InstrumentsVl Vla Vc
Diplomatic transcription of the dedicationA Trio Pasquier
Place of compositionParis
Year of origin1934
Initiation of composition08/1934
Completion of composition28.08.1934
First performance
Date of the first performance15.02.1935
Location of the first performanceParis (Concerts du Triton)
Ensemble Trio Pasquier
Trio Pasquier
Autograph deposition
InstitutionBibliothèque nationale de France
OwnerÉditions Max Eschig
Note on the autograph depostitionCopy by a copyist's hand held by the Éditions Alhonse Leduc, facsimile of the copy located at the Bohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička.
CopyrightÉditions Alphonse Leduc, Paris
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References Related writings
Documents in the Library
Note Title on the title page of the autograph: "Trio | à cordes. | (Violon, alto, violoncello.)"
About the composition

After intense work on the opera The Plays of Mary, H. 236, which took most of 1934, Bohuslav Martinů began to compose his second piano concert. Before the end of the year, he interrupted his work on the concert and wrote the String Trio No. 2, H. 238, dedicating it to the excellent trio of the Pasquier brothers. The Pasquier Trio came to Prague to present this composition in 1936, but before that, it premiered on December 7, 1935, at “Concerts du Triton” in Paris. These concerts were organized by “Triton–musique contemporaine”, a society supporting chamber music aimed to perform music by contemporary composers as well as disseminate it through radio broadcasts. The founder and main initiator of these activities was the composer, musical critic, and organizer Pierre Octave Ferroud. Other members of the society whose compositions were regularly performed at concerts included Paul Dukas, Albert Roussel, Darius Milhaud, Béla Bartók, Igor Stravinsky, Arthur Honegger, and many other prominent figures of modern music. The “Triton” society markedly influenced the course of French musical life of the 1930s, later also forming associated organizations in other European countries.

The 1934 String Trio is the second composition by Bohuslav Martinů scored for this ensemble. In 1934 Martinů ended a period of experimentation and his works began to reflect a creative synthesis of the impulses and experience he had acquired. His second String Trio is typical Martinů’s work of the 1930s, in that it is rhythmically and structurally complicated featuring very strong, almost expressive music, pushed to the brink of atonality. The small ensemble provides more breathing space for individual instruments, characterized by proceeding in large intervals culminating in solo cadences. The virtuoso composition requires high technical mastery from players as well as the perfect harmony between them. The unusually conceived form of the composition is worth mentioning as well: instead of the customary three- to four-movement cycle, this piece has two movements consisting of several sections differing in tempo. The first allegro movement contains a slow middle section, and the second movement features an introductory recitative, a brief scherzo, and a brilliant finale.

Jana Honzíková and Sandra Bergmannová, programme of the Bohuslav Martinů Festival concert, December 12, 1999

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