The Trio Fontenay was founded in Hamburg, Germany, in 1980 and consisted of violinist Michael Mücke, cellist Niklas Schmidt, and pianist Wolf Harden. The group studied in Cologne with the Amadeus Quartet, and its rise to popularity as a top chamber ensemble in Europe was swift. The trio performed often in Paris, in festivals, won several competitions, and made its U.S. debut in 1986. In 1987 Trio Fontenay signed a recording contract with Teldec in Germany and recorded all of the chamber music, relevant to the ensemble, of Beethoven and Brahms and also contemporary music by composers like Olivier Messiaen and Wolfgang Rihm. However, the Trio Fontenay decided to disband in February 2006.