John Francis Barnett

John Francis Barnett (1837-1916)

Nationality: English
Born: October 16, 1837, London Died: November 24, 1916, London (age 79)

String Quartet in d minor, Op. 8

(for 2 violins, viola and cello)
I. Allegro
II. Andante con moto
III. Scherzo. Molto allego vivace
IV. Molto Allegro - Allegro con spirito
Published: 1860 (age 22-23)
Dedication: Julius Rietz
From Edition Silvertrust

John Francis Barnett John Francis Barnett (1837-1916) was the son of a music professor and his first music lessons were from his parents. He won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he studied with Cipriani Potter and William Sterndale Bennett. Upon the recommendation of Bennett, a friend of Mendelssohn, Barnett continued his studies at the Leipzig Conservatory with Moritz Hauptmann, Julius Rietz and Ignaz Moscheles, Mendelssohn's piano teacher. He subsequently pursued a career as a concert pianist, composer and became Professor of Music at the Royal College and Guildhall music schools. His three chamber music works, this quartet, a string quintet and a piano trio, date from early in his career.

The Quartet in d minor was published in 1860 around the time he was studying at the Leipzig Conservatory, which had been founded by Mendelssohn, and whose professors held both him and Schumann as paragons to be emulated. Hence, it is not surprise that one can hear echoes of those composers in the music, especially since it was dedicated to one of his teachers, Julius Rietz. The work opens with a genial Allegro. The charming second movement, Andante con moto, begins with a brief pizzicato introduction before the song-like main theme is brought forth. Next comes a bouncy Scherzo, molto allegro vivace with a contrasting languid trio section. The finale, Molto allegro, begins with a turbulent introduction, but the many section is anything but stormy. Instead, a series of jovial melodies bring the quartet to a close.

No one would pretend this is a great masterwork, however, it historically important because very little English chamber music from the early and mid Victorian era is known or has survived. Further, the fact it is so nicely written with appealing melodies and solos for all makes this a fine choice for amateur quartets looking for a performance work. Even better yet, it presents no technical difficulties. It's been out of print for a very long time and we are pleased to make it available once again.

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