String Quartet No.4 in a minor, Op.14
Norbert Burgmüller (1810-1836) was born in the German city of Düsseldorf where his father was the city music director. After studying locally, he went to Kassel where he studied with violin and composition with Louis Spohr. Plagued by illness and personal problems, he led a retiring life as a violin and piano teacher. He did not compose a great deal, but his last works attracted the attention of Robert Schumann, who at the time of Burgmüller's death, commented that the loss to music was almost as great as that caused by Schubert's death. Schumann championed Burgmüller's music and completed his Second Symphony. Burgmüller composed four string quartets, the first three were during his student days with Spohr. His Fourth String Quartet was composed in 1835, but was only published in 1844 eight years after his death, in part through Schumann's influence. Apparently, Schumann, who was quite taken with the Fourth Quartet, did not deem the earlier ones worth his effort as they remained unpublished until recently.
The opening movement, Allegro moderato, begins in dramatic fashion with a series of powerful chords. The main theme does not immediately appear until after a series of stormy, downward-plunging passages in the violin. It is followed by a lyrical melody. The rest of the movement alternates between the powerful and dramatic outbursts first heard and the lyricism of the main subject. A lovely Andante follows, it is an amalgam of a romantic folk melody and a religious hymn. The Tempo di Minuetto which comes next stands out by virtual of its heavily accented theme. The light-hearted Allegretto con spirito finale recalls the music of his teacher Spohr.
Our new edition is based on the original 1844 Hofmeister edition. We have corrected mistakes and added rehearsal numbers. Our edition is the only edition which can truly be called a performing edition as the two prior editions paid no attention to the problem of page turns which Burgmüller's writing made difficult.