Piano Trio in G Minor, Op. 15, is the first of several pieces of music to be inspired by a tragedy in Smetana’s life. Spurred by the death of his beloved daughter Bedřiška (1851-1855), “an extraordinarily gifted child, [Smetana was inspired] to compose [his] chamber work in 1855.” (Large 65) The trio starts with feelings relating to Smetana’s anguish, followed by a dedication to the memory of his daughter torn between her life and death, and ending with a movement that gives eventual closure to Smetana’s loss.
The style of the trio involves stylistic elements of both Schumann and Liszt, as is characteristic of several of Smetana’s musical pieces (Clapham 65) and is composed of three voices: the violin, cello, and piano.
In the first…show more content…
The principle theme of the third movement (See Figure 3.) is taken from the Czech folksong "S'il jsem proso na souvrait” (“I was sowing millet”), a theme which Smetana also uses in his “Characteristic Variations on a Czech Fok Song” and in his “Piano Sonata in G Minor.” This song is associated with the Rebellion of the 1840s in which Czech citizens struggled to end the Absolutism power and to make Czech the national language and encourage Czech identity (Large 34). By using a theme that represents the Czech radicals’ desire to express their identity, Smetana creates a parallel to his desire to come to terms with the loss of his daughter, a part of his identity that is lost forever.
Figure 3 (Smetana).
The principle theme consists of a polyrhythm with couplets versus triplets, giving an uneven feel to the flow of the piece. This could express the irregularity of his dying daughter’s heart beats. This part of the piece is played presto and the melody switches off between the piano and the strings. When the strings take over the melody, the dynamics crescendo, giving a more impassioned feel. This empowered section depicts the anger Smetana felt at the loss of his daughter. Smetana ends this portion of fury suddenly and decides to enter into a new slower and softer tempo (this is a standard characteristic throughout the