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July 03, 2013

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Joel Hahn

Does chamber music exist in which a keyboard is a non-solo primary instrument, not a collaborative or accompanying instrument? Put another way, when does music for X and keyboard NOT get classed with the non-keyboard instrument?

Caroline Saccucci

Wouldn't piano trios and piano quartets get classed with piano, e.g. Beetthoven's Piano Trio in B-flat major, Op. 97 or Mozart's Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, K. 478?

Rebecca Green

Joel Hahn asks: "Does chamber music exist in which a keyboard is a non-solo primary instrument, not a collaborative or accompanying instrument? Put another way, when does music for X and keyboard NOT get classed with the non-keyboard instrument?" I can't offhand name such a piece, but there's no reason why it couldn't exist (although I wonder if we would still be inclined to characterize it as chamber music). If the keyboard instrument were primary and the non-keyboard instrument were clearly accompanying, it stands to reason the work would be considered a keyboard piece and would be classed with the keyboard instrument.

Caroline Saccucci asks a related question, "Wouldn't piano trios and piano quartets get classed with piano, e.g. Beetthoven's Piano Trio in B-flat major, Op. 97 or Mozart's Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, K. 478?" According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piano_trio), "The piano trios of the Classical era, notably those of Haydn, are dominated by the piano part. The violin only plays the melody a certain amount of the time, and is often doubled by the piano when it does. The cello part is very much subordinated, usually just doubling the bass line in the piano." In these early piano trios we have chamber music in which the piano part predominates. But because the music involves three or four instruments, even this kind of piano trio should be classed with other ensembles under 785. Specifically, the prototypical piano trio, for piano, violin, and cello, would be classed in 785.28193, built from 785.28 Ensembles of strings and keyboards (with the scope note "Three or more instruments"), plus notation 19 Size of ensemble from the table under 785.2-785.9, plus notation 3 Trios, from (785.1)3, following the instructions at 785.2-785.9:19. Piano quartets, in the sense of music for piano and three other instruments (e.g., violin, viola, and cello), would likewise be classed in a 785 number (e.g., 785.28194). But piano quartets in the sense of music for four pianists should be classed under 786.2 Pianos.

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