The Trio Fontenay was formed in Hamburg in 1980. The original members of the trio were Wolf Harden, pianist; Michael Mücke, violinist; and Niklas Schmidt, cellist. The name ‘Fontenay' is old French for ‘source' and ‘fantasy', and is also the name of the street near the Hamburg Conservatory where the ensemble first met to practise. An important early influence on the group's interpretations came from classes they attended in Cologne which were taught by the Amadeus Quartet.
In the 1980s they quickly developed an active concert schedule, including regular appearances at major concert halls and festivals in Europe. In 1986 they made their American debut. Subsequently the group toured North and South America, Australia and the Far East. For a time the ensemble was named 'trio in residence' at Théâtre du Châtelet and was based in Paris.
In the 1995-1996 season they performed the complete Beethoven cycle at Paris's Théâtre Chatelet, London's Wigmore Hall, Berlin's Schauspielhaus, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, and in Hamburg, Munich, and Cologne. Their recording of these works received the 1994 Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (German Record Critics Award). In 1998 the cellist Niklas Schmidt was replaced by Jens-Peter Maintz.
The musicians decided to disband Trio Fontenay in February 2006.