It is amazing what great change the string quartet has undergone over the centuries. Once, four musicians struggled through the chatty audience of an aristocratic lounge. Today, two violinists, a violist and a cellist do not have to compete with the appetizer or dessert, they are the main course. The quartet formation has the status - like Modigliani Quartet - of stars. And it began long ago with the composer whom they called a little affectionately, or maybe a bit ironically - Papa ...
Who is the composer in question? Well, the most talked about and written about are Beethoven and Mozart. The least is Haydn. And it is Joseph Haydn's character that rises above all the quartet art. The composition recorded in the Köchel catalog as number 465 is the last of the six devoted to Joseph Haydn. From the extensive dedication we learn about the great admiration that Mozart had for Haydn. By dedicating these works to Haydn, Mozart wrote that he begs forgiveness for all his imperfections, and calls him father, guide, and dearest friend. Haydn was impressed by these chamber music compositions.
On February 2, 1785, a small concert for Haydn was held at the composer's residence. A quartet with Leopold Mozart (father) on violin and Mozart (on viola) performing, among others, the work KV 465 (barons Antoni and Bartholomäus Tinti also played in the ensemble). After that evening, Haydn said to Leopold the famous words: "I swear to God and my honor that I consider your son as the greatest composer I know in person or by name; he has the most excellent taste and knowledge of composition", Leopold quoted these words in a letter to Nannerl (Mozart Kammermusik, p. IX).
The "dissonances" quartet (along with the others dedicated to Haydn) was created in Vienna between 1782 and 1783, when the music of the author of “The Abduction from the Seraglio” was becoming increasingly dramatic. There was no trace left of the carefree atmosphere of outdoor music (referred to as galant). The comparison of Haydn and Mozart quartets is beyond the scope of this modest note, but let us note that Mozart, carefully studying Haydn's scores, made sure that the quartet had to go to an equal dialog of four musicians, it shouldn’t be a show of the first violinist with the accompaniment of the other instruments. The idea was to achieve, as Goethe described, a discourse of four intelligent people. Apart from that, the quartet also includes purely Mozart inventions - like the famous "dissonances" introduction. In fact, when this quartet was played in Mozart's apartment, it must have been a shock. The slow introduction played the role of marking clearly the main key in the four-part cycle (as was the case with the symphony). The listener was to embed the basic key in their head in order to understand the possible departures from it in the later stages of the composition. Mozart does not care much about this convention. This introduction is bristling with sounds like the dodecaphonic compositions of Webern and Berg. There is something very Mozart sounding here - a lot of musical thought. So Mozart the melodist.
The “American” quartet by Antonín Dvořák together with his 9th Symphony (there are sound similarities between these compositions) are the most popular of his chamber work. Dvořák created this music at an express pace, during a vacation in Spillville in Iowa. The composer had taken a break from acting as director of the National Conservatory in New York.
Mikołaj Rykowski PhD
Musicologist and clarinetist, doctorate, and associate at the Department Music Theory at the Paderewski Academy of Music in Poznań. Author of a book and numerous articles devoted to the phenomenon of Harmoniemusik - the 18th-century practice of brass bands. Co-author of the scripts "Speaking concerts" and author of the spoken introductions to philharmonic concerts in Szczecin, Poznań, Bydgoszcz and Łódź.
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ur. 1929 w Warszawie. Jeden z najwybitniejszych autorów w historii fotografii polskiej. Studiował historię sztuki na KUL w Lublinie. W latach 60. pracował w tygodniku „Stolica” oraz miesięczniku „Polska”. W latach 1970-1980 mieszkał w Niemczech i fotografował dla takich czasopism, jak „Stern”, „Spiegel”, „Die Zeit”. W swojej pracy bez trudu zmieniał fotograficzne konwencje, równe sukcesy odnosił jako fotoreporter prasowy, fotograf mody oraz twórca fotografii kreacyjnej.