Franz Berwald

Franz Berwald (1796-1868)

Nationality: Swedish
Born: July 23, 1796, Stockholm Died: April 3, 1868, Stockholm (age 71)

String Quartet No. 3 in E-flat major

(for 2 violins, viola and cello)
7:35 I. Allegro con brio - Allegro di molto
4:20 II. Adagio quasi andante
3:34 III. Scherzo. Allegro assai
3:08 IV. Adagio
2:17 V. Allegro di molto
Duration: 20 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1849 (age 52-53)
2 recordings, 6 videos
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Fryden Quartet
I. Allegro con brio - Allegro di molto
Fryden Quartet
II. Adagio quasi andante
Fryden Quartet
III. Scherzo. Allegro assai
Fryden Quartet
IV. Adagio
Fryden Quartet
V. Allegro di molto
From Edition Silvertrust

Franz BerwaldSometime during the 1850’s, a German music critic is reputed to have asked Franz Berwald (1796-1868) if he was still a composer. Berwald stared at him coldly and replied, “No, I am a glass blower.” This was neither a joke nor a sarcastic put-down of the critic by a bitter man whose music had been spurned in his own country and whose career in music had met with failure after failure. Berwald had in fact, at that time, actually been a glass blower! He had become involved with this successful business, and not his first, in order to make a living, something he could not do as a musician. Liszt, whom Berwald befriended in the 1850’s, told him, “You have true originality, bJut you will not be a success in your own lifetime.” Sadly, this prediction proved true. Berwald’s music remained unplayed and for the most part—especially in his native Sweden—unappreciated. Now, nearly a century and half after his death, he has been hailed by critics all over the world as a great Swedish composer. Born in Stockholm in 1796, Berwald was taught the violin by his father, a German who had settled in Sweden and was a member of the court orchestra. Berwald followed in his footsteps.

Berwald's Third String Quartet was not published until nearly 20 years after his death. It is unusual in that it is written as if it were in one movement, but actually upon closer examination one sees there are four movements. However, Berwald links them in a very creative way. The work opens Allegro con brio with a muscular theme which interrupted four times as each of the voices is given a very romantic, short cadenza. The main part of the movement more closely resembles the romantic cadenzas then the stormy opening. The second theme however is turbulent and filled with yearning. A lovely but sad Adagio comes next. It is followed by devilish, whirlwind Scherzo. The finale starts with a long Adagio introduction. The main section, Allegro di molto, is lovely and lilting.

Here is a fine work by the most important Swedish composer of the first half of the 19th century.

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

Related Composers

1800 1900 WWI Johan Fredrik Berwald (1787-1861) Franz Berwald (1796-1868) Adolf Lindblad (1801-1878) Robert Schumann (1810-1856) Ludvig Norman (1831-1885) August Söderman (1832-1876) Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) Tor Aulin (1866-1914) Wilhelm Peterson-Berger (1867-1942) Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
Johan Fredrik Berwald (1787-1861)
Nationality: Swedish
Born: December 4, 1787, Stockholm Died: August 26, 1861, Stockholm (age 73)