When Austrian music students Schnitzler, pianist Heinz Medjimorec and cellist Walther Schulz formed the trio, they had to search for a name. "You want to have a name that is pronounceable in all languages," Schnitzler explained. "And Haydn is connected with Austria."
At that time, nearly 30 years ago, Haydn's piano trios were virtually unknown. "There were only a couple which were played, and they had never been recorded," Schnitzler recalled. "We found that they were an important part of the literature. ... They were the first piano trios to be written. Up till then, there was only the baroque trio sonata. We found it important that we start introducing the Haydn trios," he said, adding that the group was the first to record them.
Today, the trio still begins most of its performances with a work by Haydn, its enthusiasm for the composer retaining its strength through the years.
The three musicians have played together since 1967. Schnitzler attributes the longevity of the ensemble to compatibility. "We get along very well both musically and personally," he said. "We know each other's strengths and weaknesses, and we respect them and tolerate them."
Schnitzler says that artistic differences and musical arguments often cause musicians to part company. "Fortunately, all three of us from the beginning have a similar view of music."
The trio brought its view of music to Bethlehem two years ago and is looking forward to its return. "We think very fondly of the last concert we had in Bethlehem. It was a very nice hall with very good acoustics, a good audience and a good piano, which doesn't happen often in this country."