Trio for Violin, Horn and Piano (Ligeti)

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The Trio for Violin, Horn and Piano by György Ligeti was completed in 1982. It is marked as an homage to Johannes Brahms who wrote one of the few other examples of this genre.


The Trio was a turning point in Ligeti’s career. It is considered to be the watershed moment that opened up his "third way," a style that Ligeti claimed to be neither modern nor postmodern.[1]


The Trio is in four movements:

  1. Andante con tenerezza
  2. Vivacissimo molto ritmico
  3. Alla marcia
  4. Lamento. Adagio

A performance of the piece lasts about 21 minutes.

The composition explores the use of major and minor harmonies without the syntax of common practice tonality. In addition, it explores the out of tune upper partials available on the horn, asymmetric Bulgarian rhythms in the second movement,[2] and the Ligeti lamento motif in the fourth movement.[3] The first three movements are each in a ternary form – a notable look back towards traditional forms. The final movement is an example of a passacaglia using as its ground bass a similar theme as that of the opening movement. It has been pointed out that the opening theme of the first movement is reminiscent of the opening theme of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 26, "Les Adieux".[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mike Searby, "Ligeti's 'Third Way': Non-Atonal Elements in the Horn Trio", Tempo new series, no. 216 (2001): 17–22.
  2. ^ Stephen Satory, "Colloquy: An Interview with György Ligeti in Hamburg", Canadian University Music Review//Revue de Musique des Universités Canadiennes 10 (1990): 101–17. Citation on 109.
  3. ^ Stephen Andrew Taylor, “The Lamento Motif: Metamorphosis in Ligeti’s Late Style”, D.M.A. diss., Part Two (Ithaca: Cornell University, 1994): 22–49.
  4. ^ Richard Steinitz, György Ligeti: Music of the Imagination (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2003): 255–56. ISBN 1-55553-551-8.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bae, Jae-hyi (배재희). 2009. "리게티의 후기음악에서의 리듬구조 연구" [Rhythmic Structure in the Late Music of György Ligeti]. Ihwa eum'ag nonjib/Ewha Music Journal 13, no. 2:113–37.
  • Delaplace, Joseph. 2004. "Le jeu de la mémoire et de l'invention dans le Trio pour cor, violon et piano de György Ligeti". Musurgia: Analyse et pratique musicales' 11, no. 3 (Musique et pouvoir): 73–99.
  • Dibelius, Ulrich. 1984. "Ligetis Horntrio". Melos 46, no. 1:44–61.
  • Diederichs-Lafite, Marion (ed.). 1993. "Tag des Musikgesprächs". Österreichische Musikzeitschrift 48, no. 12 (December): 621–39.
  • Josel, Seth F. 2006. "Vertikaler und horizontaler Raum: Tonhöhen- und Intervallbeziehungen im dritten Satz Alla marcia von György Ligetis Horntrio". MusikTexte: Zeitschrift für Neue Musik, no. 111:61–63.
  • Taylor, Stephen A. 2004. "Passacaglia and Lament in Ligeti's Recent Music". Tijdschrift voor muziektheorie 9, no. 1 (February): 1–11.
  • Thelander, Kristin. 1999. "György Ligeti's Trio". The Horn Call: Journal of the International Horn Society 30, no. 1 (November): 43–46.

External links[edit]