Jan Brandts Buys
Suite in the Ancient Style for String Quartet, Op.23
Jan Brandts Buys (1868-1939) came from a long line of professional musicians. His father was an organist in the town of Zutphen in the Netherlands where Jan was born. He studied at the Raff Conservatory in Frankfurt and in 1893 settled in Vienna where he got to know Brahms, who along with Edvard Grieg, praised his early works. His piano concerto won an important international prize and such famous artists as Lilli Lehmann often included his songs on the same program with those of Schubert. He was best known for his comic operas such as The Tailors of Schonau and The Man in the Moon, which gained considerable international acclaim. But he did not ignore chamber music, penning several works various ensembles.
The Suite in the Ancient Style for String Quartet dates from 1908. The famous chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmann, writing in his Handbook for String Quartet Players describes the work as follows:
"A work in a lighter vein and quite straight forward with no technical difficulties. It opens with a substantial Praeludium and is followed by a charming Gavotte with a musette for its trio section. Next is a warm and finely wrought Arioso which in turn is succeeded by a lovely Menuetto with trio. A fleet finale in fugal form completes this fine work."
The Suite is quite interesting in that while "in the ancient style usually means from the Baroque, Brandts-Buys combines several older styles. For example, the main section of the Praeludium which is entirely in the baroque style has a middle section which is late classical or early romantic.