String Quartet in D Major, Op.24 No.1--New Edition
Writing of Franz Krommer’s Op.24 String Quartets in his Handbook for String Quartet Players, the famous critic Wilhelm Altmann has this to say: “When it comes to string quartets, few composers, Haydn being one, wrote more of them than Franz Krommer. Despite the fact that so many of these works were treasured by amateurs and professionals alike during his lifetime and long afterward, today few have even heard of him and fewer yet have heard his string quartets. Unfortunately, there have been virtually no new editions of these works. However, whomever takes the trouble to get acquainted with, for example, his Op.24 string quartets, will be amazed how appealing these Haydnesque works are. Mostly written in concertante style, all of the instruments are given solos while the others accompany them. The first violin part, in particular always has charming passages with clever embellishments. And every violinist can learn something from Krommer, who himself was an excellent violinist. Certainly some of his quartets deserve to be revived and receive concert performance. Krommer knew how to write for string instruments and was often able to achieve some very brilliant effects.”
Op.24 No.1 is the first of a set of three which were composed in the mid 1790’s and published in 1802. The quartet opens in unusual fashion with the cello taking the lead in the captivating Allegro vivace. A stately Adagio comes next followed by an original sounding Minuetto allegro in which the main themes are scale passages passed from voice to voice. It is coupled with a slower contrasting trio. The finale, Presto, is characterized by its almost non-stop whirling triplets.
Franz Krommer (1759-1831) was born in town of Kamnitz then part of the Habsburg Austrian Empire (today Kamenice in the Czech Republic) It had a mixed population of Germans and Czechs and though baptized František Vincenc Kramář by the time he was 15, Krommer began using the Germanized version of his name for the rest of his life, the name by which he beame known to the world. Krommer was one of the most successful composers in Vienna at the turn of the 18th Century. His reputation was attested to by the fact that his works were frequently republished throughout Germany, England, France, Italy, Scandinavia and even the United States. According to several contemporary sources he was regarded with Haydn as the leading composer of string quartets and as a serious rival of Beethoven. Krommer was a violinist of considerable ability who came to Vienna around 1785. For the following 10 years he held appointments at various aristocratic courts in Hungary. He returned to Vienna in 1795 where he remained until his death, holding various positions including that of Court Composer (Hofmusiker) to the Emperor, Franz I, an enthusiastic quartet player. He was the last composer to hold this august title and one of his duties was accompanying the Emperor on his various campaigns so that he could relax in the evenings playing quartets. There are more than 300 compositions which were at one time or another published, much of which is chamber music. He wrote more than 70 string quartets, 35 quintets, perhaps as many as 15 string trios, but also several works for winds and strings.
Our new edition is based on the 1802 Vienna edition and should interest both professionals and amateurs alike.