String Quintet in E flat Major, Op.8 No.3
For Violin, 2 Violas & 2 Cellos
Or 2 Violins, 2 Violas & Cello or 2 Violins, Viola & 2 Cellos
Anton Wrantizky's Op.8 No.3 String Quintet in E flat Major is for the unusual combination of Violin, 2 Violas and 2 Cellos. He wrote more than 60 works of chamber music usually for standard combinations such as the string quartet or string trio. But the string quintet had no standard format. The two most common were those for 2 violins, 2 violas and cello or 2 Violins, Viola and 2 Cellos. However, a few composers such as Franz Krommer, Joseph Eybler and the Wranitzky brothers were fascinated by the possibilities of a richer sonority that a Violin, 2 Violas and 2 Cellos offered and several works for this combination were composed but by comparison to the other two formats, not a huge number. Such works came into being in many cases because the composer would be commissioned to write for an existing group. It is thought that Wrantizky’s Op.8 String Quintets, a set of three, were composed for such a combination then extant in Prince Lobkowitz’s service. They date from around 1800. The Quintet in E flat Major is the last of the set, or at least was published in that order. The opening movement is held together by bustling scale passages distributed between the instruments, while the second movement surprisingly is not slow but of moderate tempo. However, the lengthy Adagio introduction to the finale is particularly striking.
Anton Wranitzky (1761-1820 Antonin Vranicky in Czech) was born in the Moravian town of Neureisch in the Austrian Habsburg Empire, today Nové Říši in the Czech Republic. He was the younger half-brother of the composer Paul Wranitzky, who was the better known of the two, although both were in their time fairly well-known, escpecially in Vienna but also throughout Europe where their music was often performed. Anton’s first first music lessons were from Paul. He studied philosophy in Olmütz (Olomouc) and subsequently from 1778 to 1782 jurisprudence and music in Brunn (Brno). After that, he followed his brother to Vienna, where starting in 1783, he took composition lessons from Mozart, Haydn and Georg Albrechtsberger. A talented violinist, he worked as a freelance musician until 1790 when he was hired by Prince Lobkowitz, the patron of Haydn and Beethoven, and eventually became Kapellmeister or Music Director of the Prince’s orchestra.. In 1807 he became the orchestra director of the Imperial Court Theater and in 1814 he became conductor in the Theater an der Wien. He knew all of the major musical figures in Vienna and was often engaged by Beethoven to conduct premieres of his symphonies.
This is a historically valuable work because it shows what other Viennese Classical composers beyond Mozart were doing (Haydn never wrote any quintets) but it is also a work which can stand on its own merits. The Op.8 Quintets were originally printed together in a book of three, which made it difficult to perform any single work. Our edition is a reprint of the original, but we have separated and rearranged the pages so that the quintet can be performed on its own without difficulty. Because this combination is so rare, we have decided to offer it for the more usual groupings of 2 violins, 2 violas and cello, or 2 violins, viola and 2 cellos and are in the process of having the Violin II part made. It should be ready in Spring of 2017.
We offer the quintet at 40% less than regular quintet price for two reasons: First because we wish to create interest in it and second because it is, though a clean reprint and quite easy to read, it is not the same as a work printed after 1840.