Archive for October, 2007

Janáček, String Quartet No. 1, “Kreutzer Sonata”

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

Leoš Janáček, 1854-1928

String Quartet No. 1, “Kreutzer Sonata”, 1923

Leoš JanáčekIn several ways, Leoš Janáček was the polar opposite of Mozart and Mendelssohn. Not a child prodigy, he didn’t enjoy even a modicum of fame or recognition until he was in his sixties. Rather than thriving in such main European cultural centers as Vienna, Berlin, Leipzig or London, Janáček spent most of his life in Brno on the eastern edge of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in a region that would become Czechoslovakia after World War I, around the same time that Janáček’s music began reaching a wider audience. Whereas Mozart and Mendelssohn achieved their greatest work, indeed, lived their entire lives before reaching even forty, (more…)

Mendelssohn, String Quartet in E-flat, Op. 44/3

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

Felix Mendelssohn, 1809-1847

String Quartet in E-flat, Op. 44, No. 3, 1838

Felix MendelssohnBeginning with his astonishing masterpiece for string octet written at the age of sixteen and ending with the turbulent String Quartet in f minor, an elegy for his sister written shortly before his own death at the age of thirty-eight, Felix Mendelssohn composed chamber music throughout his short but productive life. In addition to the octet, piano trios, piano quartets, string quintets, sextets and a variety of duo sonatas, Mendelssohn wrote six mature quartets and four individual movements since grouped into a single opus. The quartets fall into three groups, each separated by about ten years. (more…)

Mozart, String Quartet in G Major, K. 387

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1756-179

String Quartet in G Major, K. 387, No. 1 of the “Haydn” Quartets,

MozartAfter moving to Vienna, acquiring a deeper education in Bach, meeting Haydn for the first time and encountering his landmark string quartets, Op. 33, published only a year before in 1781, a twenty-six-year-old Mozart turned again to the genre of string quartet. Motivated purely by inspiration and respect rather than the dictates of patronage or the good fortune of commission, Mozart worked hard over a period of roughly two years to compose what became the set of six quartets he dedicated to Haydn. Of the twenty-three quartets he wrote, even among the celebrated last ten, the “Haydn” quartets are considered Mozart’s finest. (more…)