George Chadwick

George Chadwick (1854-1931)

Nationality: American
Born: November 13, 1854, Lowell, MA Died: April 4, 1931, Boston, MA (age 76)

String Quartet No. 1 in g minor

(for 2 violins, viola and cello)
I. Allegro con brio
II. Adagio. Andante non troppo lento
III. Menuetto. Poco vivace
IV. Finale. Allegro ma non troppo
Composed: (?) 1877 (age 22-23)
Published: 2006
Dedication: Samuel S. Herrmann
From Edition Silvertrust

George ChadwickGeorge Chadwick, (1854-1931), for long known as the Dean of American Composers, received his first music lessons from his brother. Soon he advanced so quickly he was serving as organist for the local church. Eventually, Chadwick found his way to the famous Leipzig Conservatory where in 1877 he studied with Carl Reinecke and Salomon Jadassohn. Never regarded as an extraordinary talent, soon after entering the Conservatory, his progress in composition astounded his teachers and everyone else. Several of his early works, written while there, won prizes and his name spread as far away as England. After graduating, he chose to further his studies by taking lessons privately with Joseph Rheinberger in Munich. He returned to Boston in 1880 and began a long career as a composer, conductor and teacher. Many important late 19th and early 20th century American composers were to study with him, including William Grant Still, Horatio Parker, Frederick Shepherd Converse and Arthur Farwell. Chadwick served as director of the New England Conservatory for 33 years.

String Quartet No.1 in g minor dates from around 1878 when Chadwick was still studying with Reinecke and Jadassohn at the Leipzig Conservatory. Both were very impressed. Jadassohn judged it to be of professional quality and not a student work. Chadwick appears to have been satisfied with it as well for it is the first work to which he assigned an opus number. Though given several performances in Germany, England and New England, Chadwick never arranged for it to be published and eventually gave the manuscript to the New England Conservatory of Music.

In the first movement, Allegro con brio, the powerful, but brooding, main theme is entrusted to the cello. Though not obvert, there is nonetheless a vaguely American quality to it. The part writing is superb and the masterful way in which each of the instruments is treated could not but have impressed his teachers. The opening notes to the second movement, Andante non troppo lento, suggest a chorale, but this impression is quickly dispelled by the highly romantic music which follows. The main section of the third movement, Menuetto, is more of a scherzo than a minuet. For the theme of the contrasting trio section, Chadwick uses the New England folktune, Shoot the Pipe. The buoyant and brilliant finale is superbly crafted and makes a fine impression upon the listener.

Certainly this quartet belongs in the concert hall and professional American quartets ought to take it with them on tour abroad. Besides its obvious quality, this quartet is quite important because it demonstrates that Chadwick, who introduced American themes into his music more than 20 years before Dvorak set foot on American soil, was a pioneer and had not merely copied the idea of using American melodies from the more famous Czech as he was later accused. Presenting no great technical difficulties, amateurs will definitely enjoy playing this work.

Our World Premiere edition has been carefully edited and corrected by violinist Loren Silvertrust from the original manuscript located in the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.

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

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1900 WWI WWII Carl Reinecke (1824-1910) John Knowles Paine (1839-1906) Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901) Arthur Foote (1853-1937) George Chadwick (1854-1931) Edward MacDowell (1860-1908) Horatio Parker (1863-1919) Amy Beach (1867-1944) Daniel Gregory Mason (1873-1953) Charles Ives (1874-1954)
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