String Quartet No.1 in B flat Major, Op.32 No.1
Kozeluch's Op.32 No.1 String Quartet in B flat Major is the first of an important set of three which he completed in 1788 and published himself in 1790.
"Kozeluch's string quartets are in general excellent, abounding with solidity, good taste, correct harmony; and the imitations of Haydn are less frequent than in any other master of that school."---so wrote the famous 18th century music scholar and critic Dr. Charles Burney.
Leopold Kozeluch (1747-1818 Koželuh in the Czech form) was born in the Bohemian town of Velvary, northwest of Prague. He was baptised Jan Antonín, but changed his name to Leopold to distinguish himself from his cousin, who was Kapellmeister of the famous St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague for almost 3 decades. He studied law in Prague, while continuing his musical studies with his cousin and the famous virtuoso pianist Frantisek Dusek. In 1778, he moved to Vienna, where he briefly studied with Albrechtsberger and then established himself as one of its leading pianists and teachers. After Mozart's death he was appointed Imperial Chamber Conductor and Court Composer. Among his many students were the composer Maria Theresia von Paradis, Archduchess Elisabeth, Empress Maria Theresia's daughter and Marie-Louise, daughter of the Austrian Emperor Franz and Napoleon's second wife. Kozeluch was, as were virtually all of his contemporaries, a prolific composer, leaving more than 400 works in every genre, including 6 string quartets. In 1784 Kozeluch founded his own publishing house, the Musikalisches Magazin to publish his own compositions, including the Op.32 quartets.
String Quartet No.1 is, as are all of his other quartets, in three movements. Unlike Haydn and Mozart, Kozeluch eschewed minutes, not because his works were old-fashioned like those of the Mannheim school, but simply because he did not like them. The part writing and thematic material to the opening movement, an Allegro, shows that Kozeluch was up to date as far as to musical developments among his contemporaries. The part-writing is on a par with that of Haydn. The second movement, Andantino, is a delicate version of a Czech folk tune. The toe-tapping finale, Allegretto, is just the sort of bouncy Czech music beloved to the Viennese at which he and his fellow countrymen, such as Franz Krommer and the Wrantizky, brothers excelled.
Our edition, which has rehearsal numbers, is based on the 1790 original by Kozeluch himself. Here is a work which is not only historically important because it shows what else was happening in the Vienna of the late 18th century but also because it is an appealing work in its own right.