Archive for April, 2007

Tchaikovsky, String Quartet in D Major, Op. 11

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, 1840-1893

String Quartet in D Major, Op. 11, 1871

Peter TchaikovskyTchaikovsky is essentially a composer best known for large musical forces and grand dramatic gestures: orchestral music, opera and ballet. He had no strong personal affinity for chamber music though his output was not negligible: three string quartets, a piano trio, a string sextet and miscellaneous works for violin and piano. Despite many wonderful moments, his chamber music as a whole is not held in high esteem by many of the cognoscenti for various reasons: weakness of form, unbalanced texture, inconsistency, and tendency to exceed the constraints of chamber music with grand, dramatic gestures best designed for large musical forces. (more…)

Schulhoff, Five Pieces for String Quartet

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

Erwin Schulhoff, 1894-1942

Five Pieces for String Quartet, 1923

Erwin SchulhoffFor even the cultivated music lover, Erwin Schulhoff is apt to be an unknown composer. He was born in Prague in 1894 of German-Jewish parents and very early showed an extraordinary talent for music. Upon Dvořák’s recommendation, Schulhoff began studies at the Prague Conservatory at the age of ten. He subsequently studied in Vienna and at the Leipzig Conservatory concentrating on composition and piano. Early musical influences included Strauss and Scriabin, as well as Reger and Debussy, both of whom Schulhoff briefly studied under. World War I interrupted Schulhoff’s budding career sending him to the Western Front with the Austrian Army. (more…)

Grieg, String Quartet No. 2, (Unfinished)

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

Edvard Grieg, 1843-1907

String Quartet No. 2 in F Major (Unfinished), 1891

Edvard GriegEdvard Grieg is the most well known Norwegian composer associated with the nationalistic trend in Romantic music in the latter part of the 19th century. Despite such blockbuster favorites as the Piano Concerto in a minor and the incidental music to Peer Gynt (particularly Morning Mood and The Hall of the Mountain King), Grieg is especially prized for his intimate musical miniatures: his art songs and his numerous Lyrical Pieces for solo piano. He wrote a small body of distinctive chamber music including sonatas for violin and cello, a one movement piano trio and two works for string quartet. Grieg wrote his only complete quartet, the String Quartet in g minor, in 1878. It garnered the admiration of Debussy and clearly influenced his own quartet in the same key written several years later. Ravel once said that nothing he wrote was very far from Grieg’s influence. (more…)