String Quartet No.2 in d minor, Op.34
The winner of the prestigious Vienna Composers Society Prize of 1887 and of the coveted Beethoven Prize of 1889? The answer is Julius Zellner. And among the judges who found his works worthy of these prizes were none other than Johannes Brahms and Robert Fuchs. It is no exaggeration to say that Zellner and his music were held in the highest esteem during the last two decades of the 19th century and up to the First World War. Yet today, his name and his music have all but disappeared, like those of so many other fine composers whose music was unfairly shoved in oblivion in the reaction against all things from the Romantic era after World War One.
Julius Zellner (1832-1900) was born in Vienna and lived most of his life in that city. His family steered him towards a business career but he changed courses early on and by the mid 1850s was working as a piano teacher and composer in Vienna. There are at least 50 published works including symphonies, a piano concerto and a considerable amount of chamber music.
The String Quartet No.2 in d minor dates from 1886 and won the prestigious first prize of the Vienna Composers Society in 1887. The exciting opening movement, Allegro con brio, begins calmly with a series of double stops which are immediately followed by the introduction of the dramatic and hard-driving first theme. The second movement, Allegretto, is a lovely, gentle intermezzo, however the contrasting and turbulent trio section is a surprise. Next comes a heart felt Adagio. The finale, Allegro molto, bears much in common with the first movement with its propulsive and exciting main theme. The contrasting and lyrical second subject recalls a similar melody from Smetana's piano trio.
This prize-winning work is sure to go over well in the concert hall, but best of all, it presents no technical difficulties and can be heartily recommended to amateurs. Out of print for nearly a century, we are pleased to make it available once again.