For centuries, composers have been inspired by popular music of every kind, borrowing elements, motifs and themes for use in their own ‘art music’.
Joseph Haydn, the ‘father’ of the string quartet, wrote 45 piano trios! Here is his most well known trio, known as alla zingarese, or the Gypsy. In the last movement, entitled Rondo alla zingarese by Haydn himself, the composer uses many elements that come from Gypsy musicians that he met in Esterhazy’s court.
Zoltán Kodály’s Duo Op. 7, composed in 1914, represents a glorious fusion of elements of Hungarian folklore with more formal structures of Western Classical music. Kodaly spent part of his life travelling across the Hungarian countryside with Béla Bartók, collecting, gathering and analysing the melodies of the people.
Commissioned in 1925 by a rich American amateur musician of Irish origin, Frank Martin’s Trio sur des mélodies populaires irlandaises is based on popular Irish folk tunes. It is inspired by previously unpublished ancient melodies that come from dances as well as songs.
Antonin Dvořak was happy to let traditional Slavic music influence his work. These influences can be seen in one of the favourites of the piano trio repertoire, the Dumky trio. Dumky, plural of dumka, is a diminutive form of the term duma, which refers to epic ballads, specifically a song or lament of captive people. During the 19th Century, Slavic composers used the term duma to indicate a brooding, introspective composition interspersed with cheerful and light sections.