String Quartet No. 1 (Smetana)


String Quartet No. 1 (Smetana)

String Quartet No. 1 ("From My Life",in Czech: "Z mého života") in E minor, written in 1876, is a four-movement Romantic chamber composition by the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana.

Background

After the deaf Smetana moved in 1876 from Prague to Jabkenice, he hoped, that his handicap wouldn´t be permanent. In autumn of that year he began to compose a new, important work. It was to be the composer's intimate confession, a work depicting in notes the course of his life "... using four instruments speaking among themselves in something like a friendly circle" [Score, p. VII] .

The composition was finished on 29 December 1876, ideological conception and the features of individual movements Smetana formulated in a letter to his friend Josef Srba.

It was given a private premiere in 1878 in Prague with Antonín Dvořák as violistFact|date=July 2008, and its public premiere took place on 29 March 1879, played by Ferdinand Lachner, Jan Pelikán, Josef Krehan and Alois Neruda.

It is semi-autobiographical and composed of sketches of parts of Smetana's life, as is suggested by its subtitle Z mého života ("From My Life"). Its notable features include a prominent viola solo in the very beginning of the first movement, and a high, sustained harmonic E on the first violin in the last movement, which represents the ringing presage of his deafness in Smetana's ears (though the actual ringing was a chord of A).

The work was published in 1880 by Fr. Urbánek in Prague.

Structure

The cycle consists of four movements:

*Allegro vivo appassionato
*Allegro moderato à la Polka
*Largo sostenuto
*Vivace

The first movement is the expression of composer´s inclination to the romantic ideals in life and in his music. In the second movement the polka style recalls the memories of his youth, happy and convivial. The third movement is of great emotional depth, it´s a apotheosis to love in overcoming the adversity of fate and finding harmony in life. In the last movement composer describes the journey to understanding the real essence of national art, interrupted by disaster - the beginning of the deafness. The end is almost resigned, with only a small ray of hope for better future [Score, p. VIII] .

"See also: List of compositions by Bedřich Smetana"

Footnotes

References

Bedřich Smetana: "Quartetto I. Mi minore. Z mého života. Score." Prague: Editio Supraphon, 1991. S 7676. ISBN 80-7058-286-3

External links

* [http://www.fuguemasters.com/smetana.html Notes by Joseph Way]
* [http://www.la-jolla-music-society.com/content/view/363/107/ Notes to a performance by the La Jolla Music Society]


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