String Quartet No.1 in F Major
World Premiere Edition
"Mittler was one of the greats as far as his compositional talent is concerned."---So wrote the respected musicologist Irene Suchy for CPO records.
Franz Mittler (1893-1970) was born in Vienna. As a boy he was given violin and piano lessons, the later with the famous pedagogue Theodore Leschitzky. At the Vienna Conservatory, he studied theory with Joseph Labor and composition with Richard Heuberger and Karl Prohaska. Later in Cologne, he studied with Heinrich Schenker. Mittler made a name for himself not only as a composer, but also as a poet and humorist. During the 1920ís, he became one of the most sought after lieder accompanists, partnering with such famous singers as Leo Slezak and Charlotte Kraus. He also made a name for himself as a chamber music pianist, joining forces with such groups as the world famous Rosť String Quartet. Of Jewish extraction, Mittler left Austria for New York in 1938 when the Nazis seized power. In the United States, Mittler enjoyed a varied career, performing chamber music on the radio, teaching, writing for Hollywood and television. (He composed a one finger polka for Groucho Marx) Eventually, he returned to Europe in 1964 and spent his final years teaching at the famed Mozarteum in Salzburg.
Mittler composed in most genres and was, in his lifetime, perhaps best known for his songs. His chamber music, which consists of three string quartets and a piano trio, was written during the first half of his life. These works show that Mittler, along with such other luminaries as Karl Weigl, Erich Korngold and Erich Zeisl, had firmly rejected the atonalism Schoenberg and the Second Vienna School. Instead, his work (as well as those of the other composers mentioned) takes Brahms as a starting point and builds on it, extending the limits of tonality and combining them with fresh and original ideas.
String Quartet No.1, written in a late Romantic, post Brahmsian idiom, was composed in 1909 at which time Mittler was all of sixteen years old. Nonetheless, it is an astoundingly mature work. The main theme to the opening Allegro is genial, broad and gentle. This is followed by a slightly more diffident melody which slowly turns into an intermezzo. The second movement, Andante, gives the impression of beginning in mid-phrase with a lovely, naive Schumannesque theme. The second subject, first introduced by the cello, has a slinky, cabaret quality, but quickly becomes quite intense, building to a powerful dramatic climax. A Scherzo, Allegro moderato, comes next. Neo-Haydnesque, it starts off as if it's to be a fugue, but no such thing happens. Instead, it bubbles along, suddenly producing a marvelous aria section before leading to an oriental-sounding trio, which provides a stunning contrast. The finale, Allegro, begins with a sad, pleading theme, reminiscent of Schubert. Again, the second subject, tonally, moves into oriental terrain, while a third melody, even sadder than the first and sounding like an eastern European Jewish plaint, follows.
Our world premiere edition, edited by R.H.R. Silvertrust, was made possible through the help of Professor Diana Mittler Battipaglia who provided us with parts made from the hand-written manuscript in her possession. We are proud to introduce an absolutely first rate work which not only deserves regular concert performance but will also be of great interest to amateur players everywhere.
Parts & Score $36.95