String Quintet No.1 in e minor, Op.15
For 2 Violins, 2 Violas & Cello
Eduard Franck (1817-1893) was born in Breslau, the capital of the Prussian province of Silesia. He was the fourth child of a wealthy and cultivated banker who exposed his children to the best and brightest that Germany had to offer. Frequenters to the Franck home included such luminaries as Heine, Humboldt, Heller, Mendelssohn, and Wagner. His family’s financial position allowed Franck to study with Mendelssohn as a private student in Dusseldorf and later in Leipzig. As a talented pianist, he embarked upon a dual career as a concert artist and teacher for more than four decades during the course of which he held many positions. Although he was highly regarded as both a teacher and performer, he never achieved the public recognition of his better known contemporaries such as Mendelssohn, Schumann or Liszt. As fine a pianist as the first two and perhaps even a better teacher, the fact that he failed to publish very many of his compositions until toward the end of his life, in part, explains why he was not better known. Said to be a perfectionist, he continually delayed releasing his works until they were polished to his demanding standards. Schumann, among others, thought quite highly of the few works he did publish during the first part of his life.
Franck's First String Quintet was composed in 1844 but was not published until 1850. The broad main theme of the big first movement, Allegro non troppo, has the quality of a Legend with its sighing theme which is often presented in unison. A more vibrant second theme, showing the influence of Mendelssohn is interspersed. The second movement is a Mendelssohn Scherzo. Its clever main theme is quite catchy and the use of pizzicati in the trio section is quite telling. The slow movement, Andante con espressione, is rather like a Sarabande. The general calm of the movement is twice interrupted with restless interludes. The Prestissimo Finale shows some rather surprising use, for the time, of polyphony.
The first and only edition of this work was published in 1850. It must be noted that the copy off of which we had to work was not in good condition and we spent many hours making it into a serviceable performance edition, although it is not entirely up to modern standards. The price reflects this fact. In addition, we added rehearsal letters. We wish to thank Eduard Franck's grandson, Professor Dr. Paul Franck and great grandson, Dr. Andreas Franck, for making the parts available to us so that we could bring this fine work back for contemporary players to enjoy.
Parts & Score: $29.95