String Quartet No.3 in G Major, Op.34
The composers who most influenced Friedrich Robert Volkmann (1815-1883) were Mendelssohn and then Schumann. In his day, Volkmann and his music were highly regarded by luminaries as diverse as Brahms and Liszt. Volkmann studied Freiburg and Leipzig, but, after a brief stint in Prague, he settled Pest in 1841, where he remained for the rest of his life, with the exception of the years between 1854--1858 when he lived in Vienna.
Many Germans, upon hearing the main theme of the first movement which appear in the opening bars to Volkmann’s Quartet No.3 in G Major, might say, “Oh he used the melody from Silcher’s famous Lorelei Song,” but they would be wrong. When the similarity was pointed out to Volkmann many years later, he told a well-known music critic that he was unfamiliar with the Silcher song. And research has shown that no less than 10 pieces in addition to this quartet were published prior to Silcher’s with this same melody, including one for the piano by the 14 year old Beethoven. The charming second movement, Andante con moto, is based on a pretty theme. The third movement is neither scherzo nor a minuet, but simply an Allegro con spirito. In construction it has a short contrasting middle section, an intermezzo, whose purpose is to relieve the tension of the Allegro. The finale, Allegretto sostenuto, is for the most part lyrical and full of charm but without any great fireworks. Wilhelm Altmann in his Handbook for String Quartet Players recommends this work especially to amateurs.