Intermezzo in d minor for String Quintet
For 2 Violins, 2 Violas & Cello
One does not associate the name of Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) with chamber music. But the famous symphonist did write a string quartet, a string quintet and this Intermezzo.
The idea of composing a string quintet was not Bruckner’s. Rather it was the famous Viennese violinist Joseph Hellmesberger who suggested that Bruckner should consider writing such a composition. Hellmesberger, besides being the concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic was also the leader of the famous Hellmesberger String Quartet. Bruckner was flattered by the idea and produced a magnificent work that is unique within the literature. However, Hellmesberger felt the second movement, which was a scherzo, was unplayable and asked Bruckner to write a replacement for it. This Bruckner did. The result was this Intermezzo which was more tuneful and certainly easier to play. (Our sound-bite presents about half of it)
It was in this version that the quintet was originally performed. However, few other musicians agreed with Hellmesberger’s verdict and ultimately the scherzo was restored and the quintet was thereafter published and performed with it.
For a time the Intermezzo completely disappeared. However, its excellence was eventually recognized and this led to its being published after Bruckner’s death. In Vienna and elsewhere, it was often performed in string quintet concerts as an encore, especially when the Bruckner Quintet was on the program.