The String Quartet in E minor, Op. 121, is the only string quartet by Gabriel Fauré. Completed in 1924 shortly before his death at the age of 79, it is his last composition. His pupil Maurice Ravel had dedicated his String Quartet to Fauré in 1903, and he and others urged Fauré to compose one of his own; he declined, on the grounds that it was too difficult. When he finally decided to write it, he did so in trepidation.
E minor is a minor scale based on E, consisting of the pitches E, F♯, G, A, B, C, and D. Its key signature has one sharp. Its relative major is G major and its parallel major is E major.
In musical composition, the opus number is the "work number" that is assigned to a composition, or to a set of compositions, to indicate the chronological order of the composer's production. Opus numbers are used to distinguish among compositions with similar titles; the word is abbreviated as "Op." for a single work, or "Opp." when referring to more than one work.
A string quartet refers to (a) a musical ensemble consisting of four string players – two violin players, a viola player and a cellist – or (b) a piece written to be performed by such a group. The string quartet is one of the most prominent chamber ensembles in classical music, with most major composers, from the mid 18th century onwards, writing string quartets.
The quartet is in three movements, the last movement combining the functions of scherzo and finale. The work has been described as an intimate meditation on the last things,and "an extraordinary work by any standards, ethereal and other-worldly with themes that seem constantly to be drawn skywards."
A scherzo, in western classical music, is a short composition – sometimes a movement from a larger work such as a symphony or a sonata. The precise definition has varied over the years, but scherzo often refers to a movement that replaces the minuet as the third movement in a four-movement work, such as a symphony, sonata, or string quartet. The term can also refer to a fast-moving humorous composition that may or may not be part of a larger work.
When Fauré was director of the Paris Conservatoire (from 1905 to 1920) he customarily left Paris for several weeks at the end of the academic year to compose in peace in quiet resorts. After his retirement he continued to retreat from Paris for bouts of sustained composition. The quartet was composed at Annecy-le-Vieux, and in Paris and Divonne-les-Bains between September 1923 and September 1924.
Annecy-le-Vieux is a former commune in the Haute-Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in southeastern France. On 1 January 2017, it was merged into the commune Annecy.
Divonne-les-Bains is a commune in the department of Ain in eastern France.
Throughout his career Fauré had composed for chamber forces. His works by 1923 included two piano quartets, two piano quintets, a piano trio, two violin sonatas, two cello sonatas and numerous smaller-scale chamber pieces.He had, however, always declined to attempt a string quartet. His pupil Maurice Ravel had dedicated his 1903 String Quartet to Fauré, and he and others urged Fauré to compose one of his own; Fauré refused, calling the task too difficult for him. On 9 September 1923 he wrote from Annecy to his wife, who remained in Paris, "I've started a Quartet for strings, without piano. This is a genre which Beethoven in particular made famous, and causes all those who are not Beethoven to be terrified of it." He worked on the piece, on and off for a year, finishing it on 11 September 1924, working long hours towards the end to complete it.
Joseph Maurice Ravel was a French composer, pianist and conductor. He is often associated with impressionism along with his elder contemporary Claude Debussy, although both composers rejected the term. In the 1920s and 1930s Ravel was internationally regarded as France's greatest living composer.
Maurice Ravel completed his String Quartet in F major in early April 1903 at the age of 28. It was premiered in Paris in March the following year. The work follows a four-movement classical structure: the opening movement, in sonata form, presents two themes that occur again later in the work; a playful scherzo second movement is followed by a lyrical slow movement. The finale reintroduces themes from the earlier movements and ends the work vigorously.
The first movement of the quartet to be completed was the central andante,which he wrote at Annecy between 9 and 13 September 1923. The music critic Roger Nichols comments that the sober, meditative tone of the andante is reflected in the two other movements that Fauré wrote later. After returning to Paris, Fauré began work on the first movement, for which he reused two themes from an unfinished violin concerto that he had begun and abandoned in 1878. He resumed work on the piece in the summer of the following year, first at Divonne-les-Bains and finally at Annecy, where he had begun work on it a year earlier. When the three movements were finished, he contemplated adding a separate scherzo, but decided against it, telling his wife, "The quartet is completed, unless I decide to have a little fourth movement which might have a place between the first and the second. But since it is in no way a necessity I shall not tire myself by searching for it, at least not at the moment."
The quartet was premiered after Fauré's death;he declined an offer to have it performed privately for him in his last days, as his hearing had deteriorated to the point where musical sounds were horribly distorted in his ear.
The first movement, in 2/2 time, is in sonata form.The opening theme, played by the viola, is answered by the first violin. The normal sonata pattern follows, with the viola's original theme omitted from the recapitulation.
The second movement, in 4/4 time, is in no discernible traditional form.The opening theme is reprised half-way through the movement, but otherwise the andante winds a contemplative course through meandering scales and occasional octave jumps. The dynamics constantly change, with crescendos or diminuendos in the majority of bars. The Fauré scholar Jean-Michel Nectoux said of the movement, "The Andante is one of the finest pieces of string quartet writing. From start to finish it bathes in a supernatural light. There is nothing that is not beautiful in this movement with its subtle variations of light-play, a sort of white upon white. ... The sublime music sinks out of sight, where it carries on, rather than seeming to come to an end".
Like the opening movement, the finale is in sonata form, and like the andante it is in 4/4 time.It combines the function of scherzo as well as finale. The cello introduces and develops the scherzo theme over a pizzicato accompaniment. The central development section, unusually long in relation to the rest of the movement, combines the themes heard at the beginning of the movement. The work ends in a jubilant E major conclusion.
In performance, string quartets have varied widely in their tempi for the work. Of recordings in the CD catalogues in 2011, an example of a swift performance is that by the Amati Quartet, a 1993 performance on the Divox label, which plays for a total of 22 minutes and 18 seconds. Among the slower versions is that by the Medici Quartet (Nimbus, 1989) which is nearly seven minutes longer, at 29:10.
Gabriel Urbain Fauré was a French composer, organist, pianist and teacher. He was one of the foremost French composers of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th-century composers. Among his best-known works are his Pavane, Requiem, Sicilienne, nocturnes for piano and the songs "Après un rêve" and "Clair de lune". Although his best-known and most accessible compositions are generally his earlier ones, Fauré composed many of his most highly regarded works in his later years, in a more harmonically and melodically complex style.
The Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34, by Johannes Brahms was completed during the summer of 1864 and published in 1865. It was dedicated to Her Royal Highness Princess Anna of Hesse. Like most piano quintets composed after Robert Schumann's Piano Quintet (1842), it is written for piano and string quartet.
The Élégie (Elegy), Op. 24, was written by the French composer Gabriel Fauré in 1880, and first published and performed in public in 1883. Originally for cello and piano, the piece was later orchestrated by Fauré. The work, in C minor, features a sad and sombre opening and climaxes with an intense, tempestuous central section, before the return of the elegiac opening theme.
Masques et bergamasques, Op. 112, is an orchestral suite by Gabriel Fauré. It was arranged by the composer from incidental music he provided for a theatrical entertainment commissioned for Albert I, Prince of Monaco in 1919. The original score contained eight numbers, including two songs for tenor, and a choral passage. These numbers were not included in the published suite, which has four movements.
Pelléas et Mélisande, Op. 80 is a suite derived from incidental music by Gabriel Fauré for Maurice Maeterlinck's play of the same name. He was the first of four leading composers to write music inspired by Maeterlinck's drama. Debussy, Schoenberg and Sibelius followed in the first decade of the 20th century.
The Dolly Suite, Op. 56, is a collection of pieces for piano duet by Gabriel Fauré. It consists of six short pieces written or revised between 1893 and 1896, to mark the birthdays and other events in the life of the daughter of the composer's mistress, Emma Bardac.
The String Quartet in C minor WAB 111, was composed by Anton Bruckner's in 1862 during his tuition by Otto Kitzler.
The French composer Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924) wrote in many genres, including songs, chamber music, orchestral pieces, and choral works. His compositions for piano, written between the 1860s and the 1920s, include some of his best known works.
Gabriel Fauré's Piano Quartet No. 1, in C minor, Op. 15, is one of the two chamber works he wrote for the conventional piano quartet combination of piano, violin, viola and cello. Despite being in a minor key it is predominantly positive in tone, though with some hints in the slow movement of the emotional turmoil of Fauré's life at the time of the composition.
Joaquín Turina's Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 1 was composed in 1907 at the age of 24 while he studied at the Schola Cantorum in Paris with Vincent d'Indy, and it was the composer's first published composition. It was premiered on 6 May that year in the Salle Aeolian by the Parent Quartet, to whose leader, Armand Parent, it was dedicated, while the first Spanish performance took place on 22 September in Sevilla. Ten days later the Quintet was awarded a prize in the Salon d'Automne by a jury composed of Bourgault-Ducoudray, Bruneau, Fauré, d'Indy, Magnard, Maus, Parent, and Pierné.
Sicilienne, Op. 78, is a short work by Gabriel Fauré, composed in 1893. It was originally an orchestral piece, written for a theatrical production that was abandoned. In 1898 Fauré arranged the unperformed music as a work for cello and piano, and in the same year incorporated it into his incidental music for Maurice Maeterlinck's play, Pelléas et Mélisande, in an orchestration for theatre orchestra. It took its final form as part of a suite arranged for full orchestra by Fauré, published in 1909.
The String Quartet in D major is the only string quartet composed by César Franck. The work was written from 1889 to 1890.
Pierre Lalo was a French music critic and translator. He was the son of the composer Edouard Lalo. His reviews for the Parisian paper Le Temps combined conservatism and wit; among his principal targets was the composer Maurice Ravel, whose music Lalo disparaged throughout his career. In addition to his journalistic work Lalo served on the governing boards of the Paris Conservatoire and the national radio station Radiodiffusion.
The Cello Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Op. 109 is the first of the two cello sonatas by Gabriel Fauré. Composed in 1917 at Saint-Raphaël and Paris, it was premiered on 10 November 1917 at a concert of the Société Nationale de Musique by Gérard Hekking as the cellist and Alfred Cortot as the pianist. At the same concert, the Second Violin Sonata was also premiered. The dedicatee of the work was the cellist Louis Hasselmans, who gave a second performance at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in 1918.
Gabriel Fauré's Piano Quartet No. 2, in G minor, Op. 45, is one of the two chamber works he wrote for the conventional piano quartet combination of piano, violin, viola and cello. It was first performed in 1887, seven years after his first quartet.
The Cello Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 117 is the second of the two cello sonatas by Gabriel Fauré.
Gabriel Fauré's Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 120 is one of the composer's late chamber works. The first public performance was given by the pianist Tatiana de Sanzévitch, with Robert Krettly and Jacques Patté, in May 1923 for the Société Nationale de Musique in honour of the composer's 78th birthday. The following month it was performed by the celebrated trio of Alfred Cortot, Jacques Thibaud and Pablo Casals. The work is dedicated to Mme Maurice Rouvier, widow of the former prime minister.
"Madrigal", Op. 35 is a four-part song by Gabriel Fauré to words by Armand Silvestre, composed in 1883. It is written to be sung by vocal quartet or choir, with piano or – a later addition – an orchestral accompaniment. The song was reused in 1919 in the composer's Masques et bergamasques.