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. 2 in C major

(for 2 violins, viola and cello)
I. Andante - Allegro con brio
II. Andante espressivo ma non troppo lento
III. Scherzo. Allegro risoluto ma moderato
IV. Finale. Allegro molto vivace
Composed: 1878 (age 23-24)
Published: 2006
Dedication: Salomon Jadassohn
From Edition Silvertrust

George Chadwick“Chadwick’s chamber compositions occupy an important and distinguished place in American music...” writes Carl Engel at the beginning of his article on the composer in Cobbett’s Cyclopedia. Cobbett, himself, adds at the end of the article, “I, for one, am very grateful to Mr. Chadwick for the pleasure of his chamber music.”

George 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.2 in C Major also dates from 1878 and was written only a few months after No.1 and shortly before he graduated. Both of his famed teachers noted he possessed extraordinary compositional talent as demonstrated by works “far above the student level.” It was premiered both in Europe and America with tremendous success and the work which "put Chadwick on the map." The opening Andante-Allegro con brio almost seamlessly slides from a pastorale to a quick, frenetic movement full of drive. There is something fresh about it, a kind of New World, American “can-do” dynamism. The Andante espressivo ma non troppo lento shows a wide range of moods and colors and builds to a powerful climax. The Scherzo, Allegro risoluto ma moderato is exactly what the titles indicates, a very resolute, almost plodding, theme made interesting by the embellishments around it. The middle section, with its more dainty subject, makes a fine contrast. The finale, Allegro molto vivace, is an invitation to jump out of your chair and throw your hat in the air. Its dance rhythms beckon with American vigor.

This is an American masterwork from the Romantic period. It belongs in the concert repertoire and American quartets ought to take it with them on tour abroad. Besides its obvious quality, this quartet, like the First, clearly shows that Chadwick, who introduced American themes into his music more than 20 years before Dvořák 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.

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

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