String trio

A string trio is a group of three string instruments or a piece written for such a group. The term is generally used with reference to works of chamber music from the Classical period to the present. From at least the 19th century on, the term "string trio" with otherwise unspecified instrumentation normally refers to the combination violin, viola and cello (cf "string quartet", "piano trio" etc.). This is how the term is used by major catalogs, including IMSLP.


The earliest string-trio form, found in the early Classical period, consisted of two violins and a cello, a grouping which had grown out of the Baroque trio sonata, while over the course of the 19th century the string trio scored for violin, viola, and cello came to be the predominant type (Tilmouth and Smallman 2001).

Beginning in the second half of the 18th century, although the trio configuration for two violins and cello was not wholly abandoned in classical chamber music (even during the 19th century), the scoring for violin, viola, and cello began to take precedence. Joseph Haydn appears to have been the first composer to use this combination (Tilmouth and Smallman 2001), though he was soon emulated by Luigi Boccherini (Kennedy 1994).

List of string trios

Violin, viola, cello

Composer Composition
Johann Georg Albrechtsberger (1736–1809)
  • Divertimento in C major
  • Divertimento in F major
  • Sonata I in C major
  • Sonata II in E major
  • Terzetto in C major, Op. 9a, No. 1
  • Terzetto in A major, Op. 9a, No. 2
  • Terzetto in F major, Op. 9a, No. 3
  • Terzetto in D major, Op. 9a, No. 4
  • Terzetto in B major, Op. 9a, No. 5
  • Terzetto in E major, Op. 9a, No. 6
Georges Aperghis (b. 1945)Faux mouvement (1995)
J.S. Bach (1685–1750)Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 (1741) (Arr. by Dmitry Sitkovetsky, in memoriam Glenn Gould)
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)
Wilhelm Berger (1861–1911)String Trio in G minor, Op. 69
Lennox Berkeley (1903–1989)Trio for strings, Op. 19 (1944)
Howard Blake (b. 1938)String Trio, Op. 199
Luigi Boccherini (1743–1805)String Trios, G 95–100 and G 107–112
Carlos Chávez (1899–1978)Invención II (1965)
Friedrich Cerha (1926–) 9 Bagatellen (2008)

Zebra Trio (2010)

Jean Cras (1879–1932)Trio pour violon, alto et violoncelle (1926)
Matthew Davidson (b. 1964)Music for String Trio (2006) (Davidson n.d.)
Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf (1739–1799)
  • Divertimento in D major
  • Sonatas a tre, Op. 1, Nos. 1–6, k. 200–205
  • Sonatas, Op. 2, Nos. 1–6, k. 212_17
Ernő Dohnányi (1877–1960)Serenade in C major, Op. 10
Gottfried von Einem (1918–1996)
    • String Trio, Op. 74
    • String Trio (fragment without opus)
Anders Eliasson (1947–2013)Trio per archi "Ahnungen" (2013)
George Enescu (1881–1955)Aubade, for violin, viola, and cello (Allegretto grazioso)
Karlheinz Essl (b. 1960)à trois/seul (1998)
Joseph Leopold Eybler (1765–1846)
    • String Trio Op. 2 in C major HV 197
    • String Trio in E flat major (fragment) HV 248
Brian Ferneyhough (b. 1943)String Trio (1995)
Jean Françaix (1912–1997)String Trio in C major, Op. 2
Robert Fuchs (1847–1927)String Trio in A major, Op. 94
Joseph Gehot (1756–1820)String Trios, Op. 2, Nos. 1–6
Yefim Golyshev (1897–1970)String Trio, Zwölftondauer-Komplexe (twelve-tone-duration complex) (1925)
Jorge Grundman (b. 1961)
    • String Trio No. 1 in A major
    • String Trio No. 2 in G major
    • String Trio No. 3 in C major
Sofia Gubaidulina (b. 1931)String Trio
John Harbison (b. 1938)String Trio (2013)
Joseph Haydn (1732–1809)String Trio in B major, Hob. V:8
Swan Hennessy (1866–1929)Petit trio celtique, Op. 52 (1921)
Heinrich von Herzogenberg (1843–1900)String Trios, Op. 27, Nos. 1 & 2
Paul Hindemith (1895–1963)
    • String Trio No. 1, Op. 34
    • String Trio No. 2
    • Des kleinen Elektromusikers Lieblinge
Gilad Hochman (b. 1982)Brief Memories for String Trio (2004) (Hochman n.d.).
Franz Anton Hoffmeister (1754–1812)Terzetto Scholastico Streichtrio
Vagn Holmboe (1909–1996)Gioco (Game) for string trio (1983)
Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778–1837)
    • String Trio no. 1 in E major
    • String Trio no. 2 in G major
André Jolivet (1905–1974)Suite for String trio
Gideon Klein (1919–1945)String Trio (1944)
Zoltán Kodály (1882–1967)Intermezzo-Allegretto
Hans Krása (1899–1944)
    • TANEC, for string trio
    • Passacaglia and Fugue, for string trio
Ernst Krenek 1900–1991)
    • String Trio, Op. 118
    • String Trio Parvula Corona Musicalis: ad honorem Johannis Sebastiani Bach, Op. 122
    • String Trio in 12 Stations, Op. 235
Frank Martin (1890–1974)Trio (1936)
Donald Martino (1931–2005)String Trio (1954)
Bohuslav Martinů (1890–1959)
    • String Trio No. 1, H. 136 (1923)
    • String Trio No. 2, H. 238 (1934)
Grace-Evangeline Mason (b. 1994)Into the Abyss, I Throw Roses (2018)
Siegfried Matthus (b. 1934)Windspiele, for string trio
Erkki Melartin (1875–1937)String Trio Op.133 (1926?)
Darius Milhaud (1892–1974)
    • Sonatine à trois, Op. 221b (1940)
    • String Trio, Op. 274 (1947)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791)
Ernst Naumann (1832–1910)Trio in D major, Op. 12
Ștefan Niculescu (1927–2008)
    • String Trio (1957, rev. 1977)
    • Per Tre (1985)
Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)String Trio (1990–91)
Václav Pichl (1741–1805)
    • String Trios, Op. 4, Nos. 1–6
    • Trios concertans, Op. 7, Nos. 1–6
Wayne Peterson (b. 1927)String Trio (2007)
Ignaz Pleyel (1757–1831)3 String Trios, B 401–403
Max Reger (1873–1916)
    • String Trio no. 1 in A minor, Op. 77b
    • String Trio No. 2 in D minor, Op. 141b
Carl Reinecke (1824–1910)String Trio in C minor, Op. 249
Wolfgang Rihm (b. 1952)Musik für drei Streicher (1977)
Alessandro Rolla (1757–1841)
    • String Trio in E major, Op. 11
    • String Trios, BI 341, 342, 343, 344, 346, 347, 348, 349, 351, 397, 405, 410
Guy Ropartz (1864–1955)Trio in A minor for Strings (1934–35)
Albert Roussel (1896–1937)String Trio, Op. 58
Kaija Saariaho (1952–) Cloud Trio (2009)
Ernest Sauter (1928–2013)
    • Trio no. 1 (1999)
    • Ballade (2001)
    • Trio No. 3, Trois mouvements contrastés (2007)
Giacinto Scelsi (1905–1988)Trio for strings (1958)
Alfred Schnittke (1934–1998)String Trio (1985)
Arnold Schoenberg (1874–1951)String Trio, Op. 45 (1946)
Franz Schubert (1797–1828)
Jean Sibelius (1865–1957)
    • Suite (Trio) in A major (1889, revised 1912)
    • Trio in G minor (1893–94)
Otto Siegl (1896–1978)
    • Divertimento, op. 44 (1924)
    • Trio in B major, op. 130 (1943)
Robert Simpson (1921–1997)String Trio (1987)
Nikos Skalkottas (1904–1949)String Trio No. 2 (1935)
Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928–2007)Hoffnung (2007) (Günther 2008)
Sergei Taneyev (1856–1915)String Trio in D major (1880)
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893)Allegretto moderato (1863–64)
Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887–1959)String Trio (1945)
Graham Waterhouse (b. 1962)
Julian Wagstaff (b. 1970)In Extremis (2011)()
Rolf Wallin (1957–) Sway (2010)
Anton Webern (1883–1945)
    • Satz for String Trio, Op. posth.
    • String Trio (1927), his first instrumental work using the twelve tone technique
Egon Wellesz (1885–1974)
    • String Trio, Op. 86 (1962)
    • Four Works for string trio, Op. 105 (1969, second version 1971)
John Woolrich (b. 1954)String Trio (1996)
Charles Wuorinen (b. 1938)String Trio (1968)
Iannis Xenakis (1922–2001)Ikhoor {Ιχώρ} (1978)
La Monte Young (1935)Trio (1958)
Eugène Ysaÿe (1935)Trio "Le Chimay"(1915)
Bernd Alois Zimmermann (1918–1970)Trio (1944)

Two violins, cello

Composer Composition
Alexander Alyabyev (1787–1851)Variations on a Russian folk song
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)String Trio in E minor, Hess 29
Luigi Boccherini (1743–1805)
    • String Trios, G 77–94, 101–106, 113–36, 577–78 (for some of the trios, authorship is uncertain)
    • Divertimenti G 137–42 (authorship doubtful)
Alexander Borodin (1833–1887)String Trio in G minor on a Russian folk song
Siegfried Borris (1906–1987)Terzettino
Werner Egk (1901–1983)Trio in G minor
Joseph Gehot (1756–1820)String Trios, Op. 5, Nos. 1–6
Peter Hänsel (1770–1831)
    • String Trio in D major
    • String Trio in F major
    • String Trio in C major
    • Streichtrio in F major, Op. 40, No. 1
    • Streichtrio in G minor, Op. 40, No. 2
    • Streichtrio in E major, Op. 40, No. 3
Joseph Haydn (1732–1809)
    • String Trios, Hob. V:1–21 (except Hob. V:8)
    • String Trios, Hob. V:F1, D1, B1, G1, D3, A2, C1, C4 (authorship doubtful)
Franz Anton Hoffmeister (1754–1812)
    • 6 String Trios, Op. 22
    • 3 String Trios, Op. 37
    • 6 Trios Progressives, Op. 28
Wilhelm Killmayer (b. 1927)Trio for two violins and cello
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791)String Trio in B major, K. 266/271f
Ignaz Pleyel (1757–1831)
    • 6 String Trios, B 404–409
    • 3 String Trios, B 410–12
    • 3 String Trios, B 413–15
Johann Mederitsch (1752–1835)Fantasia Terza
Joseph Schuster (1748–1812)String Trio in A minor
Johann Baptist Wanhal (1739–1813)
    • String Trios, Op. 5, Nos. 1–6
    • String Trios, Op. 12, Nos. 1–6
    • String Trios, Op. 17, Nos. 1–6

Two violins, viola

Composer Composition
Frank Bridge (1879–1941)Rhapsody Trio (1928)
Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904)
Robert Fuchs (1847–1927)
    • 2 Terzetten, Op. 61
    • Terzett in C-sharp minor, Op. 107
Zoltán Kodály (1882–1967)
    • Serenade, for two violins and viola
David Ludwig (b. 1974)Rule of Three for two violins and viola (2016)
Sergei Taneyev (1856–1915)String Trio in D major, Op. 21 (1907)

Alternative scoring

Composer Composition
F.L. Gaßmann (1729–1774)
    • String Trio in E major, for 2 violas and cello
    • String Trio in B major, for 2 violas and cello
Sergei Taneyev (1856–1915)String Trio in E major, Op. 31, for violin, viola and violotta
John Zorn (b. 1953)Walpurgisnacht (2004) for violin, viola and double bass

See also


  1. Arrangements of 6 Preludes and Fugues by J. S. and W. F. Bach, K. 404a (1782) is sometimes attributed to Mozart, which is doubtful.


  • Berger, Melvin. 2001. Guide to Chamber Music, third, corrected edition. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0-486-41879-7; ISBN 978-0-486-31672-7 (ebook).
  • Davidson. n.d. "Music for String Trio by Matthew Davidson." Retrieved April 5, 2014.
  • Günther, Andreas. 2008. "Karlheinz Stockhausen, HOFFNUNG (2007)". Programme book of the world première of Hoffnung, 31 August 2008, Cologne, by members of musikFabrik.
  • Hochman, Gilad. n.d. "Brief Memories for String Trio (2004)" Retrieved April 5, 2014.
  • Kennedy, Michael (ed.). 1994. "String Trio". The Oxford Dictionary of Music, second edition revised, associate editor Joyce Bourne. London and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-869162-9.
  • Tilmouth, Michael, and Basil Smallman. 2001. "String Trio". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.

Further reading

  • Downs, Philip G. 1992. Classical Music: The Era of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. The Norton Introduction to Music History. New York: W.W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-95191-X.
  • Holloway, Robert James. 1962. "String Trio Literature of the Twentieth Century". MM Thesis. Washington, DC: American University.
  • Unverricht, Hubert. 1969. Geschichte des Streichtrios. Mainzer Studien zur Musikwissenschaft 2. Tutzing: Hans Schneider.
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