Hugo Kaun

Soundbite 1st Movt

Soundbite 2nd Movt

Soundbites courtesy of

Steve Jones

String Quartet No.1 in F Major, Op.40

"Hugo Kaun's String Quartet No.1 in F Major dates from 1898. The first movement begins with an allegro, Bewegt und mit Geisterung (moving and with spirit). The second movement is in the manner of a funeral march in the minor. Kaun writes on the score, 'In memory of a hero'. Specifically it was the captain of the tragically shipwrecked steamer, the Elbe, who was a close friend of Kaun's. There are several upbeat episodes which come like spiritual greetings over the border of the dead to the living who grieve. This movement recalls Schubert in its depth of feeling. A very effective string quartet and also well suited to amateur players. "---the famous chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmann writing in his Handbook for String Quartet Players.


Hugo Kaun (1863-1932) was born in Berlin and received his musical education there, studying composition with Friedrich Kiel at the Royal Prussian Academy of Music. In 1887, he moved to the United States and settled in the city of Milwaukee where he lived for 13 years. Milwaukee had a large German-American population and Kaun taught at the Milwaukee Conservatory. He acquired quite a reputation as a composer as several of his works were premiered by the Chicago Symphony under the direction of his friend Theodore Thomas who had founded the orchestra. He returned to Berlin in 1900, where he remained for the rest of his life, teaching and composing. His style is late romantic and shows the influences of Brahms, Bruckner and Wagner. He wrote a fair amount of chamber music, including 4 string quartets, a string quintet, an octet, two piano trios and a piano quintet. His third string quartet dates from 1907.


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