String Quartet No.13 in e minor, Op.45 No.2
In 1818, while Spohr was serving as director of the Frankfurt Opera, he was asked to give the city’s first series of chamber music concerts and it was for this occasion that he composed his three Op.45 string quartets. All three quartets were premiered with great success but it was the second, Op.45 No.2 which became the most popular. Wilhelm Altmann, writing in his Handbook for String Quartet Players writes about it as follows:
“Op.45 No.2 in e minor is especially noteworthy and can be warmly recommended. One will not easily forget the somewhat elegiac main theme and the same can be said of the charming second subject. The second movement, Larghetto, is written in free form. The Menuetto which follows is both charming and warm, while the trio is full of fetching melody. In the Vivace finale, the energetic, effective main theme has a march-like rhythm. Contrast is provided by the delicate second subject.”
Louis Spohr (1784-1859 also known as Ludwig) was born in the German city of Braunschweig. From early childhood, he showed a great aptitude for the violin. He studied with the virtuoso violinist Franz Anton Eck in St. Petersburg. It was at a concert in Leipzig in December 1804 that the famous music critic Friedrich Rochlitz first heard Spohr and pronounced him a genius not only because of his playing but also because of his compositions. Literally overnight, the young Spohr became a household word in the German-speaking musical world. During the first half of the 19th century he was regarded as one of the great men of music. Spohr wrote in virtually every genre, not the least being chamber music. He composed some 36 string quartets, 7 string quintets, five piano trios, four double quartets and several other chamber pieces.
Spohr wrote several string quartets, known as Quatour Brillants, which were nothing more vehicles for the first violin. This quartet is NOT a Quatour Brillant and was for many years quite popular among amateurs as well as professionals.