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A piano trio is a group of three instruments including a piano. Usually it is a piano, a violin and a cello. This combination of instruments has been a very popular form of chamber music from the Classical music period onwards. A piano trio can also mean a piece of music written for a piano trio to play.
Other combinations of piano with two instruments are often called by the featuring wind instrument. For example: Mozart wrote a trio for piano, clarinet and viola which is usually called a “clarinet trio”. Brahms wrote a trio for piano, violin and French horn which is usually called a “horn trio”.
Music for three people to play at one piano is called music for piano six hands.
Famous music for piano trio
Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven all wrote several piano trios for the traditional combination of piano, violin and cello. Beethoven’s last piano trio has the nickname Archduke because it was written for the Archduke Rudolph. Franz Schubert wrote two beautiful piano trios.
Famous piano trios
Alfred Cortot, Jacques Thibaud and Pablo Casals were world famous musicians who played and recorded piano trios in the early 20th century. During the second half of the 20th century the Beaux Arts Trio were the best known group. Today there are many young musicians who play piano trios, including three Japanese sisters called the Fujita Piano Trio who play a lot of their music all from memory.