Jan Baptist Vanhal

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15 Short String Trios for 2 Violins and Cello (or Viola) or 3 Violins

Jan Baptist Vanhal (1739-1813 also spelled Vanhall, Wanhal, Wanhall) was born in the Bohemian town of Nechanice, then part of the Habsburg Empire. His initial studies were with a local musician, but later he moved to Vienna where he studied violin and composition with Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf. He also learned both the cello and bass and became so proficient that he was able to play the cello part in a quartet which consisted of Dittersdorf on first violin, Haydn on second violin and Mozart on the viola. Vanhal tailored his output to economic realities of the day and composed, as did most of his contemporaries, a huge number of compositions in virtually every genre, including some 70 symphonies and numerous operas. A considerable part of his output was for various chamber ensembles and he is thought to have composed more than 90 string quartets not to mention dozens of other chamber works. Today he is remembered mostly for his double bass concerto, but during his lifetime and for most of the first part of the 19th century, several of his works were quite popular. Mozart frequently performed one of his violin concertos in concert. Along with Haydn, Vanhalís works influenced and shaped Mozartís ideas and compositions.


His 15 Little or Short Trios, known as Petits Trios, were composed in the mid 1770ís and are very comparable to the melodic and harmonic ideas found in the works of Haydn, and in particular Mozart, from the same period. The trios present no technical difficulties whatsoever and were clearly intended for players of modest technical resources. Yet, they are polished and highly effective little works. So much so that they could easily be and probably were performed in concert at the time.


It is unlikely that Vanhal intended all of these works to be played at one go, but rather that musicians could pick and choose and present three or four to make up a short trio. These pieces are not only ideal for students but can be played by professionals without any rehearsal at weddings or parties and they will sound every bit as good as more difficult works from the same era. Our soundbites present several of these but not all 15.


A measure of the popularity of these particular trios is that they have been arranged for more than a dozen different combinations. Vanhal himself made arrangements for two violins and viola as well as one for three violins. We also offer these.


(A) Two Violins & Cello $17.95
(B) Two Violins & Viola $17.95
(C) Three Violins $17.95
(D) All 5 Parts $24.95





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