Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Dr. Bob Prescribes Beethoven’s Three String Trios, Op. 9

Yesterday’s Music History Monday post featured the composer, pianist, friend of everybody (including Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert), the Benedictine abbot Abbé Maximilian Stadler (1748-1833). During the course of that post, we observed that Stadler believed the music of Mozart to be the very last word when it came to artistry and expression. We also observed that the Abbé understood Beethoven’s music not a whit and that he was notorious for getting up and leaving a room when a work of Beethoven’s was about to be performed. (That Beethoven forgave him these indiscretions is an indication of the respect and affection Beethoven felt for Stadler, a measure of respect and affection shared by the larger Viennese musical community.)

Abbé Maximilian Stadler
Abbé Maximilian Stadler (1748-1833)

However, there was an occasion when Stadler stayed put for a performance of a work by Beethoven, an event rare enough to be singled out in Alexander Thayer’s monumental Life of Beethoven (originally published in 1866 but extensively revised and edited by Elliott Forbes and republished in 1967).

“But once he stayed and not only listened to a Beethoven piece but praised it. It was the Trio for Strings, Op. 9, which had been composed nearly a generation before! [The violinist and friend of Beethoven’s Karl] Holz becomes sarcastic: ‘One might say A.B.C.D. (Abbé cédait). [meaning “the Abbé yielded”]”

Thayer fails to mention that in fact, Beethoven’s Opus 9 consists of three string trios. Whatever; the good Abbé high opinion of these trios guides today’s Dr. Bob Prescribes. …

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