Ernő Dohnányi

Ernő Dohnányi (1877-1960)

Nationality: Hungarian
Born: July 27, 1877, Pozsony (now Bratislava) Died: February 9, 1960, New York (age 82)

String Sextet in B-flat major, Wo80

11:11 I. Allegro ma tranquillo
4:50 II. Scherzo. Allegro vivace
5:16 III. Adagio quasi andante
5:50 IV. Finale. Animato
Duration: 28 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1893 (age 15-16)
Revised: 1896 (age 18-19)
1 recording, 4 videos
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Budapest String Sextet
I. Allegro ma tranquillo
Budapest String Sextet
II. Scherzo. Allegro vivace
Budapest String Sextet
III. Adagio quasi andante
Budapest String Sextet
IV. Finale. Animato
From Edition Silvertrust

Ernst von Dohnanyi"Dohnanyi's String Sextet in B flat Major was one of the pieces the 17 year old submitted as part of his entrance examination to the Budapest Music Academy. He had completed it in 1893. Dohnanyi later revised it in 1896, after two years of study with his composition teacher Hans Koessler. In 1897, he entered the Sextet for the Chamber Music Prize in the Royal Hungarian Millennium festivities which celebrated the founding of Hungary. It did not win, although he did win the Symphony Prize and the Overture Prize. Still not satisfied with the result, he revised the Sextet once again during 1898-99. It begins with an Allegro ma tranquillo. This is a big, spacious and at times genial movement, but the one thing it is not, is tranquil. The promising opening theme, first stated by the two cellos, is dark, brooding and mysterious. As it is restated by the higher voices, it becomes more vibrant and less mysterious. The second theme is brighter and lovely, and has a Schubertian quality to it. As the movement progresses, one hears the hand of Brahms, which rests somewhat heavily upon the composer. The instruments are very well handled and the part-writing is quite good. The fleet, short second movement, Scherzo, Allegro vivace, is Mendelssohnian in nature, light and airy. Certainly Brahms never wrote anything like it. The trio, is a rich string choral, darker and quieter in nature, and provides excellent contrast. After the return of the scherzo, surprisingly, there is a highly lyrical and passionate second trio led by the cellos. This is truly an outstanding movement, perfect in every way. The third movement, Adagio quasi andante, is rather sedate and seemingly inspired by late Beethoven. The first cello is given the lead on several occasions to state the more poignant melodies. The writing is generally rich and quite dense, but at other times is almost ethereal. The first theme to the finale, Animato, reminds one of a Mendelssohnian or Schumannesque march. The second theme is, at first, lighter, but it blossoms forth with some tonally advanced writing, more typical of Dohnanyi’s middle period."

The Chamber Music Journal

Ernst von Dohnanyi (1877-1960) is generally regarded, after Liszt, as Hungary’s most versatile musician. He was active as a concert pianist, composer, conductor and teacher and must be considered one of the chief influences on Hungary’s musical life in the 20th century. Certainly, his chamber music is very fine, with most of it being in the masterwork category.

For our edition, we consulted the 1893 manuscript which is in the British Library and also the 1896 revised manuscript which can be found in the library of Florida State University where Dohnanyi taught for many years. The 1898-99 manuscript appears to have been lost. While there have been other editions, we believe ours is the only one which is a performance ready edition, that is to say, page turns have been made with the performer in mind.

© Edition Silvertrust. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Related Composers

1900 WWI WWII Franz Liszt (1811-1886) Joseph Joachim (1831-1907) Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) Hans von Koessler (1853-1926) Eugen d'Albert (1864-1932) Ernő Dohnányi (1877-1960) Béla Bartók (1881-1945) Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967) Leó Weiner (1885-1960)
Béla Bartók (1881-1945)
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Nationality: Hungarian
Born: March 25, 1881, Nagyszentmiklós, Hungary Died: September 26, 1945, New York City, NY (age 64)
Hans von Koessler (1853-1926)
Nationality: German | Hungarian
Born: January 1, 1853, Waldeck, Fichtelgebirge Died: May 23, 1926, Ansbach (age 73)
Eugen d'Albert (1864-1932)
Nationality: German
Born: April 10, 1864, Glasgow Died: March 3, 1932, Riga (age 67)