Leonhard von Call
String Quartet No.1 in C Major, Op.139
The String Quartet No.1 in C Major of Leonhard von Call is the first of a set of three quartets which were published shortly before his death by the Vienna firm of Carl Haslinger, although most scholars seem to think the quartets were composed in the late 1790s but only given to Haslinger at a later date after von Call's chamber music with guitar had become popular. The Quartet is representative of the typical Vienna Classical Style. In four movements, the opening Allegro moderato features a gentle and lovely melody in the first violin and later a dialog between the cello and first violin. The second movement is a theme and set of five variations. Next comes a charming Menuet. The work concludes with a toe-tapping Rondo, moderato.
Leonhard von Call (1767-1815) was born in the town of Eppan in South Tirol, then part of the Austrian Empire, and since 1919 in northern Italy. Although he studied music as a boy and became a virtuoso on the guitar and mandarin, composing, teaching and performing was something he did as an avocation. He served as an officer in the Austrian army during the war against the French Republic and was ennobled for bravery. The rest of his life, he worked as an official in the Imperial Treasury in Vienna. In his spare time, he composed and became a much sought after teacher. Most of his compositions were for chamber ensembles, the bulk of which involved the guitar. He was a prolific composer and is thought to have composed more than 200 works. Most of these were designed for amateurs and home music making rather than virtuoso players and for this reason as well as the fact that he had a gift for writing very appealing melodies, his works achieved tremendous popularity during the first part of the 19th century.
We were fortunate to obtain a very pristine copy of the first, and probably only, edition and have reprinted it. Historically valuable, and like the quartets of Krommer and the Wranitzky brothers, it gives a good idea of what the contemporaries of Haydn and Mozart were producing. The target audience of much of von Call's music was home music makers and amateurs, in particular, will want to have a chance to play this appealing and effective work.