String Quartet No.1 in E Flat Major, Op.4
During the first fifteen years of the 20th century, Leó Weiner (1885-1960) was widely regarded as a "wunderkind", winning virtually all of the important Hungarian and Austrian competitions between 1903 and 1908. Weiner was born in Budapest and entered the Budapest Academy of Music at the age of 16, where studied composition with Hans Koessler. His rise was meteoric and he Critics dubbed him the "Hungarian Mendelssohn." Weiner was essentially a Romantic composer and his compositions, though certainly featuring modern touches, never ventured into either polytonalism or atonalism. As these trends pioneered by Stravinsky, Bartok and Schonberg began to come into vogue, Weiner's reputation and that of his music slowly receded, as did the music of other contemporary composers who remained faithful to traditional tonality.
String Quartet No.1 was composed in 1906. The first movement, Allegro, is idyllic and pastoral. It has a sprightly, simple main theme of a folkloric nature. A rubato section has a definite Hungarian aura to it. The second movement, Allegretto vivo e grazioso is a scherzo. There are several themes but the dominant theme is a lively dance-like rhythm. The trio provides an excellent contrast. A dignified, almost tragic, Andante espressivo follows. The finale, Allegro molto vivace, is very original and full of colorful tonal effects.
This is a big and important work which deserves to be in the concert repertoire. Though it sounds difficult, it is actually well within the range of experienced and competent amateur players.