(Fine Art’s Quartet June 1st. 2012)
The Fine Art’s Quartet featured three pieces that were originally composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Efrem Zimbalist, and Robert Schumann respectively. I will present each composer and their work in the above, named order.
The first piece, String Quartet No. 15 in D Minor, K. 421 was composed by, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart, born in 1751 was the last of seven children, of whom; five did not survive early childhood. By the age of three, Mozart was proficiently playing the clavichord, (a keyed instrument noted for its delicate tones, since the tangents do not rebound from the string until the key is released); by age four he began writing short compositions. Several accounts of young Mozart’s genius in music can be found, for instance, according to Higherrevelations.com, at the age of 7 Mozart picked up a violin at a musical gathering and sight-read the second part of a work, with absolute accuracy, despite never having taken violin lessons.
Mozart began gaining notoriety in Europe, around 1763 when he, as well as his sister Nannerl, began touring with their father Leopold. Mozart continued to travel Europe from 1762-1773 and began to compose his first works such as, the opera Mitridate, re di Ponto and the solo, Motet Exsultate, jubilate, K. 165. which are still widely preformed today.
In 1881, Mozart, traveled to and settled in Vienna, where he met Joseph Haydn around 1784, though he had, had a fondness for Hayden’s music for many years prior. Mozart and Hayden formed a lasting friendship and would often play together in an impromptu string quartet, when Haydn would visit Vienna. Mozart wrote six quartets dedicated to Haydn, date from the period 1782 to 1785, we will be looking at K. 421. K.421, had 4 movements, much like a symphony as was common of the day. The first three movements of K. 421 are played in sonata form. This musical form consists of movements that differ in tempo, rhythm, and melody; but are held together by subject and style. The first movement was played allegro, or at a lively and fast pace. The second movement was played adagio, also called andante, which is played at a slow, restful pace. The third movement of K. 421 is played minuetto and trio, or played in a slow steady pattern, in ¾ time and trio, being played by three instrument and voices at the same time. The Final movement is allegro in sonata, rondo, or variation forms. Rondo is a form is where the principal theme is repeated several times.
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In 1791, Mozart fell ill, with what researchers have hypothesized to have been rheumatic fever, at the age of thirty-five.
The second piece, String Quartet in E Minor, was composed by Efrem Zimbalist. Zimbalist was born in 1889, in southwestern Russia, he was the son Jewish parents, and his father Aron was a conductor. By age nine, Zimbalist played first violin for his father’s orchestra and at age twelve, he enrolled in the St. Petersburg conservatory and graduated in 1907 with the school’s Gold medal in performance. In 1911, Zimbalist made his debut performance with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and continued to amaze audiences around the world for the next 40 years, giving his farewell performance in 1950, leaving a legacy that regarded him, for many as the greatest violist of his age.
Zimbalist composed the String Quartet in E Minor with four movements. The movements can be defined as Moerato, set to a moderate pace, the second is performed, con brio, literally meaning “with vigor”, the third is Andante con moto, which is referred to as moderately slow or walking pace and the forth movement is played Allegro di molto “very fast”.
Zimbalist passed away in 1985 at the age of ninety-four in Reno Nevada.
The last piece performed by the Fine Arts Quartet, was String Quartet No. 1 in A Minor, Op 41, composed by Robert Schumann. Robert Schumann was born in 1810 in Germany. Encouraged by his father, Schumann received general music and violin lessons, beginning at the age of seven. Schumann studied music from age seven until age eighteen when he tuned his focus to studying law for two years. In 1830, at the age of twenty, Schumann began taking piano lessons. Sometime between 1830 and 1834, he permanently injured his right hand by a cause, unknown and decided to forego any future of concert preforming and focus solely on composition.
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In the years 1832–1839, Schumann had written almost exclusively for the piano, but in 1840 alone he composed astonishing one hundred sixty-eight songs. Despite his accomplishments, Schumann received little recognition. In 1842, Schumann began to compose chamber music, or music that is written for two – ten solo parts featuring one instrument to a part. Each part bears the same importance. That same year, Schumann wrote String Quartet No. 1 in A minor, Op 41. Op 41 consists of four movements; the first movement was played andante espressivo-allegro, in which the movement is to be played upbeat and expressively. The second movement is played scherzo- presto, or very fast and in sonata form. The third movement of Op 41 is played adagio, (even the best of violinist, need a rest now and again.) and the final movement is again played presto.
Schumann continued to compose until 1854 when, after a suicide attempt, he was taken to an asylum, at his own request and remained there for the remaining two years of his life. It was later surmised that Schumann’s depressed and declining mental state and physical health was likely brought on by syphilis, which he most likely contracted in his school years.