String Quartet No.2 in e minor
World Premiere Edition
"Mittler was one of the greats as far as his compositional talent is concerned."---So wrote the respected musicologist Irene Suchy
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.
His Second String Quartet was composed between 1910-1911 and was probably written immediately after his first. Mittler was only 17 years old. Like the First String Quartet, it is written in a Post-Brahmsian, late Romantic style, but whereas String Quartet No.1 is mostly genial and gentle, String Quartet No.2 is more dramatic and at times almost violently stormy. The first movement, Allegro moderato, is a prime example of this as it dramatically explodes from its opening bars like a sudden thunder burst. Just as suddenly, the music turns quiet with remnants of the storm eventually driven away by a carefree Viennese dance. But then the sky clouds over and a dark ominous progression is heard which leads to yet another storm. The main theme of the massive Adagio which follows has a hymn-like quality. It is calm and dignified. Though not so marked, the movement is a theme and set of variations. Each of the variations has a different mood, the blood of Vienna is clearly infused in several. (our soundbite presents less than a fourth of the movement and we have made several cuts to give you samples of the variations) Next comes an Allegretto moderato, which by comparison to the second movement is quite concise. It is in the nature of a teasing intermezzo. The opening section of the finale, Presto, begins much in the same fashion of the first movement, bursting forth with tremendous energy. The main theme is not only powerful but possesses tremendous forward drive. A second section, in a lighter mood, has the quality of an Edwardian steeple chase. The two sections jostle back and forth throughout creating a tremendous sense of excitement.
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 another first rate work which should be of interest to both professional and amateur players.
Parts & Score $36.95