Paul Wranitzky

Paul Wranitzky (1756-1808)

Nationality: Moravian | Czech
Born: December 30, 1756, Nová Říše, Moravia Died: September 29, 1808, Vienna (age 51)

String Quartet in E-flat major, Op. 23, No. 4

(for 2 violins, viola and cello)
I. Allegro moderato
II. Adagio
III. Menuetto - Trio
IV. Rondo
Published: 1793, Offenbach: Johann André (age 36-37)
From Edition Silvertrust

Paul Wranitzky Paul Wranitzky's String Quartet in E flat Major, Op.23 No.4, was the fourth of a set of six commissioned by the cello-playing King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm II. The same King for whom Mozart and Haydn wrote quartets and Beethoven composed his Op.5 cello sonatas. The Op.23 Quartets date from 1793 and were first published by André in Offenbach. The cello parts to these quartets, like those of the quartets which Mozart and Haydn wrote for the King, are more prominent than was normal for that period. While Haydn and Mozart raised the cello to an almost equal voice within the quartet, they avoided giving it virtuoso solo passages. Wranitzky, however, perhaps because he never really abandoned the concertante style of composition, did in fact write such solos which can be found in all six of his Op.23. The quartet follows the general pattern established by Haydn—Fast, Slow, Minuet and Fast. The opening Allegro moderato is typical or the concertante style then prevalent in late 18th century Vienna and most of Germany. With extensive running solo passages for each voice the music moves forward effortlessly. The second movement, is actually two movements in one. It begins with a lovely, warm Adagio. But wrapped in the middle of it is a Menuetto, complete with trio. At its end, the Adagio reappears and concludes the movement. An energetic and exciting Rondo brings the work to a close.

Paul Wranitzky (1756-1808) (Pavel Vranický in the Czech form) was born in the town Nová Ríše (then Neureisch) in Moravia. At age 20, like so many other Czech composers of that period, he moved to Vienna to seek out opportunities within the Austrian imperial capital. Wranitzky played a prominent role in the musical life of Vienna. He was on friendly terms and highly respected by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven who preferred him as the conductor of their new works. Wranitzky was, as so many of his contemporaries, a prolific composer. His chamber works number over 100. Although some scholars believe that Wranitzky studied with Haydn, there is no proof of this. But there can be no question that he studied and was influenced by Haydn’s quartets. Like Haydn, Wranitzky’s quartet writing went through many stages of development beginning with the pre-classical and evolving to the finished sonata form of the late Vienna Classics. The majority of Wranitzky’s quartets are set in the three-movement format of the Parisian quatour concertant. In these works he explored the emerging Romantic style with (for the time) daring harmonic progressions, theatrical gestures, and virtuoso display.

Writing about Wranitzky's chamber music in the last part of the 19th century, the famous French critic and musicologist Fétis recalled:

“The music of Wranitzky was in fashion when it was new because of his natural melodies and brilliant style…I recall that, in my youth, his works held up very well in comparison with those of Haydn. Their premature abandonment of today has been for me a source of astonishment.”

We are pleased to reintroduce this work which has been out of print for roughly 200 years and feel confident that its freshness and originality will give great pleasure to chamber music lovers.

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

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