Piano Trio, Op. 97 (Beethoven)

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Piano Trio
"Archduke Trio"
by Ludwig van Beethoven
Beethoven Mähler 1815.jpg
Beethoven in 1815, portrait by Joseph Willibrord Mähler
KeyB-flat major
CatalogueOp. 97
Composed1810 (1810)–11
DedicationArchduke Rudolph of Austria
Performed11 April 1814 (1814-04-11)
Sketches for the third and fourth movements of Piano Trio, op. 97, 1810–1811, musical autograph

The Piano Trio in B-flat major, Op. 97, by Ludwig van Beethoven is a piano trio completed in 1811. It is commonly referred to as the Archduke Trio, because it was dedicated to Archduke Rudolph of Austria, the youngest of twelve children of Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor. Rudolf was an amateur pianist and a patron, friend, and composition student of Beethoven. Beethoven dedicated a total of fourteen compositions to the Archduke, who dedicated one of his own to Beethoven in return.

The trio was written late in Beethoven's so-called "middle period". He began composing it in the summer of 1810 and completed it in March 1811.

Although the "Archduke Trio" is sometimes numbered as "No. 7", the numbering of Beethoven's twelve piano trios is not standardized, and in other sources the Op. 97 trio may be shown as having a different number, if any.

First performance[edit]

The first public performance was given by Beethoven himself, Ignaz Schuppanzigh (violin), and Josef Linke (cello) at the Viennese hotel Zum römischen Kaiser on 11 April 1814. At the time, Beethoven's deafness compromised his ability as a performer, and after a repeat performance a few weeks later, Beethoven never appeared again in public as a pianist.[1][2][3]

The violinist and composer Louis Spohr witnessed a rehearsal of the work, and wrote: "On account of his deafness there was scarcely anything left of the virtuosity of the artist which had formerly been so greatly admired. In forte passages the poor deaf man pounded on the keys until the strings jangled, and in piano he played so softly that whole groups of notes were omitted, so that the music was unintelligible unless one could look into the pianoforte part. I was deeply saddened at so hard a fate."[3]

The pianist and composer Ignaz Moscheles attended the first performance, and wrote about the work: "In the case of how many compositions is the word 'new' misapplied! But never in Beethoven's, and least of all in this, which again is full of originality. His playing, aside from its intellectual element, satisfied me less, being wanting in clarity and precision; but I observed many traces of the grand style of playing which I had long recognized in his compositions."[2]


The work is in four movements:

  1. Allegro moderato, 4/4
  2. Scherzo (Allegro), 3/4
  3. Andante cantabile ma però con moto. Poco piu adagio, D major, 3/4
  4. Allegro moderato – Presto, 2/4 – 6/8

A typical performance runs approximately 36 to 45 minutes in length.

References in popular culture[edit]

  • The trio, referred to as The Archduke, plays a significant role in Elizabeth George's mystery A Traitor to Memory (2001)[4]
  • In Haruki Murakami's novel Kafka on the Shore (2002), the piece and its history are used to explain the relationship between two main characters, Nakata and Hoshino, and the latter's development as a person.
  • In the Coen Brothers's film The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), the melancholic third movement of this work plays a central role, particularly in the climactic final scene in the electric chair.


  1. ^ Piano Trio in B-flat major, Op.97 imslp.org, accessed 17 April 2014
  2. ^ a b Historically Informed Performances: “Archduke” and “Ghost” Trios, by John Moran Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine bf.press.illinois.edu, accessed 17 April 2014
  3. ^ a b Beethoven: Illustrated Lives Of The Great Composers, by Ates Orga accessed 17 April 2014
  4. ^ George, Elizabeth (2001). A Traitor to Memory. Random House Large Print. ISBN 9780375431135.

External links[edit]