As with its companion work op. 88 from 1882, Brahms’s second string quintet was supposed to be completed in the relaxed atmosphere of a summer in Bad Ischl, but eight years later. The work’s first technical try-out in Vienna in October 1890, which Brahms described to his friend Clara Schumann as “not displeasing”, was followed by a fine-tuning of the work in close dialogue with musical friends such as Joseph Joachim before Brahms sent score and parts to his publisher Simrock at the year’s end. With its at times orchestral texture and stirring, typically Brahmsian rhythms, this cheerful work early on won the hearts of listeners and players alike, despite presenting the latter with some challenges.
This new Henle Urtext edition is based on the New Brahms Complete Edition, for which editor Kathrin Kirsch has consulted all the autograph sources and first editions. With an informative preface it offers the best foundation for approaching this jewel of Brahms’s chamber music.
- String Quintet no. 2 G major op. 111
His significant output comprises chamber music, piano works, numerous choral compositions and songs (including settings of folk-song lyrics), as well as large-scale orchestral works in the 1870s and 1880s. His compositions are characterized by the process of developing variation. He is considered an antithesis to the New German School around Liszt, and an advocate of “absolute” music.
|1833||Born in Hamburg on May 7, the son of a musician. His first piano instruction with Willibald Cossel at age seven, then with Eduard Marxen; first public performances from 1843.|
|1853||Concert tour through German cities; he meets Schumann, who announces him as the next great composer in his essay “Neue Bahnen” (“New Paths”). A lifelong, intimate friendship develops with Clara Schumann.|
|1854–57||Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15.|
|1857–59||Choir director, pianist, and teacher at the royal court in Detmold.|
|1859–61||Director of the Hamburg Women’s Choir.|
|1860||Manifesto against the New Germans around Liszt.|
|1863||Cantata “Rinaldo,” Op. 50.|
|1863–64||Director of the Wiener Singakademie.|
|1868||Partial performance in Vienna of “A German Requiem,” Op. 45 (the complete work premiered in Leipzig in 1869)|
|1871–74||Artistic director of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Society of Friends of Music) in Vienna.|
|1873||Haydn Variations, Op. 56a, for orchestra.|
|from 1877||His symphonic output begins with the Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68 (begun 1862); composition of the Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73; the Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90 (1883); and Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98 (1884–85): cantabile themes, chamber-music-like style.|
|from 1878||Travels in Italy.|
|1878||Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77, for Joseph Joachim.|
|1881||Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 83, with a scherzo movement.|
|1886||Honorary president of Vienna’s Tonkünstlerverein (Association of Musicians).|
|1897||Four Serious Songs, Op. 121. Dies in Vienna on April 3.|