String Quartet No.4 in C Major, Op.33 No.1
Kozeluch's Op.33 No.1 String Quartet in C Major is the first of his second set of three which he completed around 1789 and published himself in 1790. Dr Charles Burney, the famous English music scholar and critic had this to say about 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.33 quartets.
String Quartet No.4 like his other five string quartets, is 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 opening Allegro begins with a rather calm, relaxed atmosphere but it quickly leads to a lively development full of forward motion. The middle movement is an impressive Poco largo on a par with the best of Haydn’s slow movements. The finale, Andantino con variazione, has an appealing melody for its theme. It is followed by 5 contrasting variations and an Allegro coda.
Our new edition is based on the 1790 original by Kozeluch himself. This quartet 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.