Joseph Miroslav Weber
of Steve Jones
String Quartet No.2 in b minor
Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky rarely saw eye to eye on anything, but they as did as judges Swhen it came to awarding Joseph Miroslav Weber's String Quartet the first prize at the 1891 St. Petersburg International String Quartet Competition.
“Tchaikovsky, Napravnik and Rimsky-Korsakov were entirely correct in awarding the first prize to Joseph Miroslav Weber’s outstanding string quartet in b minor at the Petersburg International String Quartet Competition. This composer definitely has something very worthwhile to say. Though he has lived in Germany since 1873, his Bohemian heritage shines through. As a violinist, he shows that he fully understands how to write well for string instruments. The parts are grateful to play without presenting the players with any great technical difficulties. I believe this quartet to be the equal of Dvorak's late quartets. It deserves to be heard in concert and amateurs should certainly take note of it. The first movement, Allegretto, is highly poetic replete with lovely Slavic melodies that are highly attractive. This is followed by a highly pleasing Minuetto moderato. The style could be called rococo but as updated by a late romantic composer. The third movement, Comodo, is a highly atmospheric Czech elegy, written as only a Bohemian can. The short fiery middle section provides an excellent contrast. The main subject of the finale, Allegro furioso, is characterized by its Czech rhythms. The theme itself is presented in the form of a fugue. There are two beautiful lyrical melodies which appear in the movement's development. The effective coda reintroduces first theme to conclude.”----Wilhelm Altmann writing in his Handbook for String Quartet Players.
Joseph Miroslav Weber (1854-1906) was born in Prague. He studied violin and organ there and enjoyed a career as a solo violinist and conductor, holding posts in Thuringia, Prague, Wiesbaden and Munich. Weber's chamber music was highly valued by his peers as witnessed by the prizes so many famous composers and teachers awarded to it. It is inexplicable that it has fallen into oblivion and certainly deserves to be rediscovered.