George Onslow

Soundbite 1st Movt

Soundbite 2nd Movt

Soundbite 3rd Movt

Soundbite 4th Movt

String Quintet No.19 in c minor, Op.44

For Three Separate Combinations: See Below

Onslow's String Quintet No.19 dates from 1831. It is certainly one of his most exciting quintets. After its publication, it was, like so many of his others, performed by several well-known players and always to great acclaim, more than holding its own against such quintets by Mendelssohn and Beethoven which sometimes appeared on the same program with it.


It is hard to believe that a composer whose chamber music Schumann and Mendelssohn ranked with that of Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn could fall into obscurity. Perhaps no composer, more than George Onslow (1784-1853), illustrates the fickleness of fame. Onslow was born and lived his entire life in France, the son of an English father and French mother. His 36 string quartets and 34 string quintets were, during his own lifetime and up to the end of the 19th century, held in the highest regard, particularly in Germany, Austria and England where he was regularly placed in the front rank of composers. His work was admired by both Beethoven and Schubert, the latter modeling his own 2 cello quintet (D.956) on those of Onslow and not, as is so often claimed, on those of Boccherini.  Publishers such as Breitkopf & Härtel and Kistner were among many which competed to bring out his works. Such was Onslow’s reputation that he  was elected to succeed Cherubini as Director of the prestigious Académie des Beaux-Arts, based on the excellence of his chamber music and this, in an “Opera Mad France”, which had little regard for chamber music. However, after the First World War, his music, along with that of so many other fine composers, fell into oblivion and up until 1984, the bicentennial of his birth, he remained virtually unknown. Since then, his music, to the delight of players and listeners alike, is slowly being rediscovered, played and recorded. Onslow’s writing was unique in that he was successfully able to merge the drama of the opera into the chamber music idiom perfected by the Vienna masters.

Although the first 3 of Onslow's string quintets were for the standard 2 violins, 2 violas and cello, thereafter, his quintets, with the exception of his last three, were for 2 cellos and one viola. Onslow began providing alternative bass parts to all of his subsequent quintets, in lieu of a second cello, after hearing the famous bassist Dragonetti substitute for an absent second cellist during a performance of his tenth string quintet.

The Quintet begins with a lenghy Lento introduction which slowly builds tension and leads to the main section of the first movement, Allegro spirituoso, with its hard driving rhythm and tempo, full of what one critic has called the 'elan terrible of the French Revolutionary style.' The excitement created by the first movement is not lessened by the Minuetto, allegro impetuoso which comes next. More like a scherzo than a minuet, it is only in the trio section, which is repeated twice, that long-lined cantabile melodies replace the energetic and fast moving minuet. The third movement, Andante con moto, quasi allegretto, is not your typical andante but a fierce march. The finale, Vivace ed agitato, might almost be called a moto perpetuo as the music races along right from the start to the final measures without let up.

This great work has been out of print for most if not all of the 20th century. Our all new edition is based on the 1832 Kistner edition.  Professionals as well as amateurs are certain to find this work to their taste.


(A) 2 Violins, Viola & 2 Cellos-Parts $29.95
(B) 2 Violins, 2 Violas & Cello-Parts $29.95
(C) 2 Violins, Viola, Cello & Bass-Parts $29.95
(D) All Seven Parts $39.95




Contact Us



Place Order

What's New