George Onslow

George Onslow (1784-1853)

Nationality: French | English
Born: July 27, 1784, Clermont-Ferrand Died: October 3, 1853, Clermont-Ferrand (age 69)

String Quartet No. 1 in B-flat major, Op. 4, No. 1

(for 2 violins, viola and cello)
6:03 I. Allegro con brio
5:06 II. Andantino sostenuto
3:38 III. Minuetto. Allegretto - Trio
4:07 IV. Finale. Allegro
Duration: 19 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1807-1810 (age 22-26)
Published: 1811, Paris: Pleyel (age 26-27)
1 recording, 4 videos
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Mandelring Quartet
I. Allegro con brio
Mandelring Quartet
II. Andantino sostenuto
Mandelring Quartet
III. Minuetto. Allegretto - Trio
Mandelring Quartet
IV. Finale. Allegro
From Edition Silvertrust

George Onslow “Onslow composed his first three string quartets, in the summer of 1807, before he began his formal study of composition with Anton Reicha, which makes them a rather extraordinary achievement when one hears them. The first quartet, Op.4 No.1 in B Flat Major begins with an Allegro con brio in 6/8 time. From the very start we hear a new voice. The melodic language is certainly not that of Haydn or Mozart. It opens in a bravura fashion, full of drama, The four voices are treated almost as equals. The second movement, Andante sostenuto is in 2/4. It sounds like an English or Scottish folktune and is treated in a fashion which was to become a favorite of Onslow’s; a theme and set of variations. A superb Minuetto Allegro follows, no longer the classical minuet but more in the order of scherzo. The part writing leaves nothing to be desired. A contrasting trio in minor, rather than releasing the tension of the minuet, instead is full of fire. It is often said that the Op.18 Quartets of Beethoven were light years ahead of nearly anything being written for the next 20 years. This quartet stands out as an exception to that statement. The Finale, Allegro is the kind of moto perpetuo of which Onslow showed himself to be a master. In 4/4, it is a rhythmically interesting movement with a dramatic and military flavor."

The Chamber Music Journal

Perhaps no composer more than George Onslow (1784-1853) illustrates the fickleness of fame. Onslow was born and lived his entire life in France, the son of an English father and French mother. His 36 string quartets and 34 string quintets were a constant feature of concert programs throughout the 19th century, particularly in Germany, Austria and England. where he was regularly placed in the front rank of composers by such experts as Mendelssohn and Schumann. His work was admired by both Beethoven and Schubert, the latter modeling his own cello quintet (D.956) on those of Onslow and not, as is so often claimed, on those of Boccherini. George Onslow's String Quartet No.4 was one of the most popular and frequently performed quartets of its time. Yet, until a few years ago, both he and this quartet were virtually unknown.

This is an important quartet both historically and on its merits. It should appeal to both professionals and amateurs alike. We are pleased to present an all new edition based on the original Pleyel edition.

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

Related Composers

1800 Ignaz Pleyel (1757-1831) Jan Dussek (1760-1812) Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842) Anton Reicha (1770-1836) Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) Johann Baptist Cramer (1771-1858) Johann Hummel (1778-1837) George Onslow (1784-1853) Franz Schubert (1797-1828) Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Johann Baptist Cramer (1771-1858)
Nationality: English | German
Born: February 24, 1771, Mannheim Died: April 16, 1858, London (age 87)
Jan Dussek (1760-1812)
Nationality: Czech
Born: February 12, 1760, Čáslav, Czech Republic Died: March 20, 1812, Saint Germain-en-Laye or Paris, France (age 52)
Anton Reicha (1770-1836)
Nationality: Czech | French
Born: February 26, 1770, Prague Died: May 28, 1836, Paris (age 66)