String Quartet No.2 in G Major, Op.32 No.2
Charles Burney, the famous 18th century music scholar and critic, had this to say about Leopold Kozeluch's string quartets:
"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."
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.
During the 18th century, quartets were usually published in sets of three or six. It was generally the practice of the publisher to put what was considered the weaker quartets in the middle and the strongest first and last. However in the case of Kozeluch’s String Quartet No.2 in G Major, this is not the case. The writing, from the very beginning of the pleasant Allegro shows a clear grasp of the then emerging modern quartet style. The opening theme, though led by the first violin, is harmonically underpinned by all of the voices. While first violin is given much of the fast passage work, it does not give the impression of being busywork or filler. The effective, prayer-like subject of the second movement, Poco adagio, is very fine, resembling a a vocal lied. There are several other touches, such as a responsion duet between the first violin and cello, which are also quite telling. The main theme to the finale, Rondo, Allegro, is in 6/8 and clearly based on a folk tune.
Our edition, which has rehearsal numbers, is based on the 1790 original by Kozeluch himself. This is an interesting quartet as it is an example of what a contemporary of Haydn and Mozart in Vienna was doing. It is also an appealing work in its own right.