Johann Friedrich Kelz

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String Trio in E flat Major, Op.128

Johann Friedrich Kelz (1786-1862) was born in Berlin and is said to have studied the cello with the famous French cellist, Jean Pierre Duport and composition with the composer Carl Zelter. There is no longer a great deal of information available about him. He was mostly active in Berlin as a teacher and composer. For many years, he served as principal cellist of the Royal Prussian Opera. His works are thought to have numbered more than 300.


His Trio in E flat Major, Op.128 was published in 1830 but was almost certainly composed some years before, judging from its style, which is that of the late classical era. Kelz called the work Grand Trio and dedicated it to the famous Italian opera composer Gaspare Spontini. Kelz as principal cellist of the Royal Opera in Berlin had to know Spontini fairly well as the latter served as director between 1820 and 1841. Although the work is in six movements—having two fast outer movements and two slow movements which are separated by minuets—–it is not an overly long work but quite well written for all three voices.


It opens with an Allegro in rather stately fashion and then becomes livelier as it proceeds, sounding like a classical divertimento. The main theme of the second movement, Lento, begins with a long, singing melody in the cello. Next comes a sprightly Menutto with two trios. The minuet is Hadynesque in that snippets of the theme are shared by all of the voices which are necessary to complete it. In the first trio, the violin and cello engage in a duet, while the viola is given the pretty, landler-like second trio. The fourth movement is a dignified Adagio, a somber processional. A second Menuetto, also with two trios, precedes the finale. The minuet section is dominated by triplets. In the first trio, which is rather similar to the minuet, the viola takes the lead although the cello occasionally intercedes. The second trio is a traditional German Dance. The finale, Allegretto, is a jaunty, upbeat affair with catchy, appealing melodies.


This is a fine work, with appealing melodies and good part writing which will prove valuable to trio groups looking for a fresh work from the classical era. Long out of print, we have reprinted the only edition, digitally cleaning it, correcting mistakes and adding rehearsal letters.

Parts: $18.95



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