Piano Trio in D, Anhang 3 (1799?) by Carl van Beethoven?
Author: Mark S. Zimmer
This charming little two-movement trio in D has quite the illustrious pedigree. Found in a manuscript in the British Library, it was listed as a possible Mozart composition in the 1910 Koechel catalog (Anhang 52a). In 1926, it was first published, this time with an attribution to Ludwig van Beethoven. The Kinsky-Halm catalog points to a possible attribution. The manuscript is in the same hand as we find the manuscript of the Minuet WoO 12, nr. 1, which has been identified as being by Caspar Carl van Beethoven, from 1799. At that time, Ludwig van Beethoven's principal assistant was his brother Caspar Carl. Brother Carl was a composer of no little ability, as one can see from the set of 12 Minuets, miscatalogued as WoO 12 of brother Ludwig's works by Kinsky/Halm. Perhaps we have here another composition by brother Carl? If so, it just underscores Carl's significant and completely disregarded talents; a composition which has been variously attributed to Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven is certainly not garbage!
Unfortunately, the trio is incomplete. Two pages are missing from the first movement, totalling 33 measures. Based on the relative length of the movements, we expect that a repeat of the first section has been lost with these two pages. The first movement is a stately Allegro in a Mozartian mold, based heavily on arpeggios. This is followed up by a Rondo Allegretto that is full of rollicking fun and rowdy good humor, punctuated by a multitude of grand pauses. Of the many pieces attributed to Beethoven, this is one of the more intriguing. Of course, it is entirely possible that this is Carl's copy of a trio by brother Ludwig, but no sketches for such a work have been identified for this work as belonging to Ludwig.