Three Romances for violin and piano op. 94
Horn Trio in E flat major op. 40
Air for solo horn
Trio for violin, horn and piano
A Berliner Festspiele/Musikfest Berlin event
Johannes Brahms’ Horn Trio Op. 40, which was composed in 1865, was overshadowed by a sad event: it was the same year in which Brahms’ mother died. The slow movement of the work has therefore often been interpreted as a farewell – an interpretation supported by the instruments chosen for the work: Brahms’ mother was apparently especially fond of the horn. According to György Ligeti, Brahms succeeded in creating a composition that “floats in heaven as an incomparable example of this chamber music genre”, regardless of the biographical background. 117 years after Brahms, Ligeti presented a work for the same orchestration and called it an “homage à Brahms”. Nonetheless, he was quick to emphasize that he did not compose this work with some form of neo-romanticism in mind: “My trio emerged in the late 20th century and is – in its construction and expression – music of our time.” I
n addition, with this composition Ligeti created a musical memorial to the rich musical traditions of his Transylvanian homeland. According to Ligeti, the third movement of his horn trio is “inspired by various folk music traditions of non-existing peoples, as though Hungary, Romania and the entire Balkans were to lie somewhere between Africa and the Caribbean.” Jörg Widmann’s work for the horn, Air, on the other hand plays with the various meanings of the word (in English and French “air” can refer to the substance forming our atmosphere which we breathe, as well as a tune or melody, among other definitions), opening the horn to new possibilities in a virtuoso manner.