Schumann – Sechs Stucke

Love is in the air, catch it if you can! Schamann wrote these six pieces for his wife Clara, and they are filled with joy and more than a hint of Bach.

Schumann excelled at miniatures. He also revered Johann Sebastian Bach, and in the spring of 1845 he and Clara were engrossed in the study of fugue. They had just moved to Dresden, where Robert was taking up the position as conductor of the Dresden orchestra; and the first thing they acquired for their new home was a pedal piano – an instrument with an extra row of pedals for playing bass notes, the closest thing you could get to an organ at home. It was wildly popular during that nineteenth-century craze for the organ and for playing symphonies and concertos in piano reduction. Robert was also teaching Clara counterpoint, and wrote this delightful little cycle of pieces for her.

They’ve been arranged for many instruments – this version for piano trio was made by Theodor Kirchner, one of Schumann’s students during his brief tenure at the Leipzig Conservatory.

Programme notes by Charlotte Wilson

Beethoven’s Piano Trio in B-flat major, Op. 97 is part of our 2022 LEGACY 1 programme.

To find out what’s coming up near you, visit our upcoming events.

The Archduke

NZTrio will be playing Beethoven’s Piano Trio in B-flat major, Op. 97 in our LEGACY 1 programme. It’s dedicated to Archduke Rudolf and is one of many important works that Beethoven dedicated to his friend and patron. Our programme notes, written by Charlotte Wilson, give you some background on their friendship and this work in particular.

This incomparable piano trio was written for Archduke Rudolf, the youngest child of Emperor Leopold II and Beethoven’s lifelong friend and patron. Sickly, also unencumbered by affairs of state, he devoted himself to music and by the time he was sixteen had dumped his piano teacher – the official music teacher to the Hapsburg princes – in favour of the 34-year old Beethoven who was making such a splash in Vienna. They became fast friends, despite the gap in their ages, and Beethoven even accepted him for composition as well as piano – the only composition pupil Beethoven ever had.

And, of course, the Archduke’s position meant that he could introduce Beethoven to the cream of Viennese society just when he needed it. Not only that, when it seemed Beethoven might leave Vienna – he’d been offered a job in Westphalia in northern Germany – the Archduke lured him to stay by teaming up with Princes Lobkowitz and Kinsky to guarantee him an annual salary, 4,000 florins for life; and when one was killed in a fall from his horse and the other went bankrupt, he took over sole responsibility and continued to pay Beethoven himself, even increasing for inflation until he died. Beethoven repaid his friend by dedicating some fourteen works to him in total – all his most important works, including the Emperor piano concerto, the Hammerklavier sonata, the Missa Solemnis – and this. 


This is Beethoven at the height of his powers, completely the master of large-scale sonata form. The opening theme is one of great spaciousness, luxuriance, flowing serenely along into the more staccato second subject, masterfully developed in lush writing for both piano and strings. The scherzo is energetic and bouncy, wrapped around a trio that combines mysterious fugato with a brilliant waltz. Then, the heart of the work, a hymn-like set of variations “singing, but keeping the movement going” that seem to evolve from within, inexorable, crossing all the usual time boundaries – this is one of Beethoven’s later hallmarks – until a swift change in mood leads into the dazzling, dancing, gypsy-inspired finale. Subjected to constant development, displaying his incredible mastery of harmony and texture as well as rhythm and melody (that cello soaring above the piano tremolandos), it all leads to a thrilling presto coda.

Beethoven’s Piano Trio in B-flat major, Op. 97 is part of our 2022 LEGACY 1 programme. To find out what’s coming up near you, visit our upcoming events.

2022 Series Launch

Join us for our 2022 Series celebrating 20 years of NZTrio

We are celebrating our 20th Anniversary in 2022 with the LEGACY series – an opportunity to look to the past and to the future.

One of NZTrio’s greatest legacies from its first 20 years is the commissioning of over 75 new works and LEGACY heralds three new works fresh off the press from Michael Norris, Tabea Squire and Gao Ping. We’re teaming up these new works from Aotearoa with some of the mightiest masterpieces of the trio repertoire – Beethoven’s “Archduke”, Schubert’s E-flat trio and Tchaikovsky, plus some cheeky genre-busters from Kapustin, Bolcom and Schuller, and a lesser-known work from a familiar name – Schumann.

We’ll be performing our LEGACY series across Aotearoa and live streaming LEGACY 1 from the Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber. Find more about what’s coming up near you and how to book below.

Season pass available for Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber
Dates: 29 May, 20 July, 17 November


Schumann – Sechs Stücke in kanonischer Form arr. for piano trio by Kirchner, Op. 56, I & II
Michael Norris – Horizon Fields
Kapustin – Trio, Op. 86
Beethoven – Piano Trio in B-flat major, Op. 97 “Archduke”

The story begins with the first two of Schumann’s “Six Pieces in Canon” where he pays homage to the lasting resonance of Bach’s prodigious talents in polyphonic writing. Then we look simultaneously to the past and the future, marking NZTrio’s proud legacy of over 75 commissions by performing the latest creation from Michael Norris, who wrote NZTrio’s first ever commission back in 2003. Genre-busting repertoire is highlighted in Kapustin’s trio, a representation of the Soviet jazz scene – spicy and crisp. There’s a moment to catch your breath before the heavyweight champion appears. Beethoven’s Op.97 Bb Major trio is dedicated to his patron and friend Archduke Rudolph of Austria who would surely be delighted to know his name lives on attached to this majestic and profoundly affecting work.

Christopher’s Classics, Christchurch
21 April, 7:30pm


Greytown Music Society 
1 May, 4pm
Tickets by phone reservation (evenings)
Ed & Juliet 06 304 9497 or

Public Trust Hall, Wellington
18 May, 7pm

Pah Homestead, Auckland
(1 hour short concert version)
19 May, 7pm

Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber 
(This performance will be livestreamed)
29 May, 5pm


Schumann – Sechs Stücke in kanonischer Form, Op. 56 arr. for Piano Trio,  III & IV
Squire – Der Tanz
Bolcom – Trio
Schubert – Piano Trio No. 2 in E flat, Op. 100

The story continues with the luscious trio arrangement of Schumann’s melodious miniatures dedicated to his music teacher Friedrich Wieck before we return home to the sounds of Aotearoa in Tabea Squire’s newest work. Bolcom’s trio celebrates the music of our time in a whirlwind journey, turbulent with autumnal and Hispanic-jazzy tones contrasted with other-worldly serenity. Finally, we experience Schubert at the height of his artistry in his marvellous E-flat trio, acclaimed by Schumann as ‘an angry meteor blazing forth and outshining everything in the musical atmosphere of the time’. Brace yourselves for this epic musical panorama – the whole gamut of human emotion is conveyed in just four movements.

Warkworth Town Hall
3 July, 4pm

Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber
20 July, 7pm

Nathan Homestead, Manurewa
(1 hour short concert version)
23 July, 5pm


Schumann – Sechs Stücke in kanonischer Form, Op. 56 arr. for Piano Trio,  V & VI
Gao Ping – 寻山 Searching for the Mountain*
Schuller – Piano Trio
Tchaikovsky – Piano Trio in A minor, Op 50

The final saga begins with Schumann weaving his love of Bach’s counterpoint with his own natural fountainhead of fantasy, presented in an arrangement by his friend and colleague Kirchner. The chromatic spectrum is explored further in Schuller’s trio, embodying his jazz roots with colleagues Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis, and acknowledging his place in American composers’ royalty. Gao Ping’s NZ legacy continues long after his return to China in this brand new commission. The journey concludes with the largest, most symphonic piano trio of all – Tchaikovsky’s expansive and magnificent work written in memory of Nikolai Rubinstein – “À la mémoir d’un grand artiste”

* Generously supported by the Nicholas Tarling Charitable Trust

Pah Homestead, Auckland 
(1 hour short concert version)
6 November, 7pm

Public Trust Hall, Wellington
9 November, 7pm

Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber
17 November, 7pm

Whittaker’s Musical Museum, Waiheke Island
20 November, 5pm
Ticket enquiries: Sophie Perkins –

International Women’s Day 2022

International Women’s day is a great chance to get to know some of the amazing composers who’ve written works for us recently.

Have a listen to works from leading New Zealand composers: Celeste Oram, Sarah Ballard, Salina Fisher, Jenny McLeod, and Dame Gillian Karawe Whitehead.

Celeste Oram - The Naming of the Waters

Sarah Ballard - Prema Lahari

Salina Fisher - Kintsugi

Jenny McLeod - Clouds

Dame Gillian Karawe Whitehead - Ka maranga ngā kapua (The cloud will lift)

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NZTrio6 hours ago
A fabulous evening with our Wellington crowd. Such a special occasion – we performed on the late Christopher Marshall’s beautiful Bösendorfer, the first performance in its new home. Christopher contributed so much to the music scene in Aotearoa, his legacy lives on ❤️