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All Listed Works Edition Silvertrust
Niels Gade

Niels Gade (1817-1890)

Nationality: Danish
Born: February 22, 1817, Copenhagen Died: December 21, 1890, Copenhagen (age 73)

String Quartet in F major, Willkommen und Abschied

(for 2 violins, viola and cello)
10:37 I. Allegro di molto
7:23 II. Adagio con espressione
4:15 III. Serenata scherzando
Duration: 22 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1840 (age 22-23)
From Edition Silvertrust

On the manuscript of Niels Gade's 1840 String Quartet in F Major, we find the words "Willkommen un Abschied" (Welcome and Farewell). They were taken from the title of the famous love poem written by Goethe in 1771. Schubert set the words to music and they clearly inspired the young 23 year old Gade. By the opening movement, Allegro di molto, Gade wrote the words from the first verse of the poem, "Es schlug mein Herz, geschwind zu Pferde! ...In meinem Herz welchem Glut!" (With pounding heart, I mounted my horse...Within my heart what passion burned). The fast, rising scale passages in the music clearly describe the rider's passion and the urgency with which he rode. In the middle movement, Adagio con espressione, Gade quotes from the poem again, "Dich sah ich und die milde Freude...Und Zartlichkeit für mich, ihr Götter!!Ich hofft es, ich verdient es nicht!," (I saw you and my heart gladdened...And love for me, Oh God! I hoped for but dared not ask). In the finale, Serenata scherzando, the music is mostly in the minor and Gade quotes the words from the last verse of the poem, "Verengt der Abschied mir das Herz...und sahst mir nach mit nassem Blick: Und doch, welch Glück, gelibt zu werden! Und lieben, Gotter, welch ein Glück." (Alas, the ache of parting came...and follows me with tearful eyes. But what luck it is to love, love itself is a gift).

Niels Gade (1817-1890) was born in Copenhagen and began his career as a concert violinist, later taking a position with the Royal Danish Orchestra. Mendelssohn, who was much impressed by and premiered Gade’s First Symphony, invited him to teach at the famous Leipzig Conservatory. After Mendelssohn’s death in 1847, Gade was appointed director of the Conservatory and also conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra. In 1848, he returned to Copenhagen the next year when war broke out between Prussia and Denmark. In Copenhagen, Gade became director of the Copenhagen Musical Society and established a new orchestra and chorus. He was widely regarded as Denmark's most important composer from the mid-Romantic period. He taught and influenced several Scandinavian composers, including Edvard Grieg, Carl Nielsen and Otto Malling. His own music often shows the influence of both Mendelssohn and Schumann.

This quartet is important not only because it was written before Gade met Mendelssohn and Schumann and as such does not show their influence, but it is also valuable because it is typical of early-mid Danish Romanticism.

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

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