Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf

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String Quartet No.1 in D Major

Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf (1739-1799) was born in Vienna and was recognized as a child prodigy on the violin and one of the great violin virtuosos of the 18th century. The first part of his life was spent as a touring virtuoso and especially in Italy he enjoyed many triumphs. The second half of his life was spent as a composer and music director at various aristocratic courts. His output voluminous and he is generally regarded after Mozart and Haydn as one of the most important representatives of the Vienna Classical era. Originally, his music showed the influence of the Italian composers but as time went by his familiarity with the compositions of Mozart and Haydn greatly changed his compositional style. He knew both men personally and the three of them sometimes performed string quartets in Vienna along with Vanhal. Dittersdorf played first violin, Haydn second violin, Mozart viola and Vanhal played cello.


Although titled String Quartet No.1 it is not at all certain that it was the first of the series of six he wrote roughly at the same time. It is widely regarded as his masterpiece, perhaps because of the excellence of the part writing, however, the others are all charming and never fail to please. His quartets date from his middle period. By this time Dittersdorf had turned away from the Italian school of composition and has adopted the Mannheim style which both Mozart and Haydn did during the 1770's and which eventually developed in the style we now call Vienna Classic. Typical of Mannheim works the quartets all have three movements. The opening Moderato starts off in a sedate fashion, but gradually, the music becomes more lively although it always retains an unhurried air. If one were to ask for a typical example of the Viennese Classical Minuet, one could not do better than the middle movement, Menuetto which follows. It is stately and eminently dance-like. The trio section is darker in tone. The finale, a Presto, from its first note quickly rushes off. Dittersdorf here he shows he is the equal to Haydn, at least during this time period by his excellent use of the instruments.


This is very good work from the middle classical era which would make a fine program selection where an alternative to Haydn is desired. It goes without saying that amateurs will enjoy it.


(A) String Quartet No.1---Parts $17.95
(B) String Quartet No.1---Parts & Score $22.95
(C) Special Offer Quartet Nos.1, 3 & 5---Parts Only $37.95
(D) Special Offer Quartet Nos.1, 3 & 5---Parts & Scores $49.95




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