April is the fourth month of the year. And so the Classics a Day team decided to make classical quartets this month’s theme. One could easily fill up a month of postings with nothing but great string quartets. But I decided to explore further.
A piano trio is made up of four musicians. So is a vocal quartet, a percussion quartet, a brass quartet, and so on. I decided to seek out some of the more unusual quartet compositions. And while I do include some string quartets, they’re not written by the usual suspects.
Here are my #Classicsaday selections for the third week of #ClassicalQuartet
04/13/20 Mary Howe (1882-1964): Allegro Inevitable
Howe was one of the many American composers who studied with Nadia Boulanger. One of her interests was incorporating American folk music into her works.
04/14/20 Julius Rontgen (1855-1932): String quartet in A minor
Rontgen was a student of Franz Liszt. He was an accompanist for Pablo Casals. He and his sons also performed together as a piano trio.
04/15/20 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Mozart Adagio and Allegro for Woodwind Quartet, K. 594
Mozart originally wrote this work for a mechanical clockwork organ. The clock played a piece when it struck the hour. Mozart’s work was one of several by other composers that were put in rotation.
04/16/20 Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943); String Quartet No. 1
This work was actually a student piece, written around 1890. Rachmaninoff was greatly under the influence of Tchaikovsky at the time, as you can hear in this work.
04/17/20 Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga (1806-1826): String Quartet No. 1 in D minor
Arriaga was nicknamed “The Spanish Mozart.” Like Mozart, he wrote brilliantly and quickly — and had a short life. His three string quartets were his only works published during his lifetime.