Jan Baptist Vanhal
String Quartet in E flat Major, "Hoffmeister No.2"--New Edition
The famous 18th century Irish tenor Michael Kelly, writing in 1784 while staying in Vienna gives this somewhat tongue in cheek account:
“Storace hosted a quartet evening for his friends. The players were tolerable, but not one of them excelled on the instrument he played. There was, however, a little science among them, which I dare say will be acknowledged when I name them: On first violin—Haydn, on second violin—Dittersdorf, on cello Vanhal and on viola—–Mozart.”
The truth, of course, was that Haydn was a good violinist if not great, Dittersdorf one of the leading violin virtuosi of the day—so perhaps he should have sat first. Vanhal was a highly accomplished cello soloist and Mozart was both a superb violinist as well as a violist. Jan Baptist Vanhal (1739-1813 also spelled Vanhall, Wanhal, Wanhall) was born in the Bohemian town of Nechanice, then part of the Habsburg Empire. His initial studies were with a local musician, but later he moved to Vienna where he studied violin and composition with Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf. He also learned both the cello and bass and became highly proficient and was known as a soloist on both instruments. Vanhal composed in virtually every genre leaving a huge number of works, including perhaps as many as 100 string quartets. Most of these were composed before 1780. Only two known sets of his quartets were composed after 1780.
Sometime around 1786 he composed three string quartets dedicated to the composer and music publisher Franz Anton Hoffmeister. A well-known personality in Vienna, Mozart also dedicated a quartet to Hoffmeister. Vanhal’s Quartet in E flat Major is without opus number but was known as Hoffmeister String Quartet No.2. The opening movement Allegro con fuoco is full of energy and forward motion. The theme is syncopated and highly accented. The second movement, Adagio, is in the form of a serenade with the first violin given the lead. The finale, Allegro, is a rondo in 6/8. Here the thematic is passed from voice to voice a la Haydn.
This is an interesting work because one can see what a respected colleague of Haydn and Mozart was producing during this formative period. We have created a modern edition complete with rehearsal numbers.
Parts & Score: $31.95