Zemlinsky's string quartets: a composer's view

Fribbins, Peter (2007) Zemlinsky's string quartets: a composer's view. In: Zemlinsky Studies. Middlesex University Press, Hendon, London, pp. 100-113. ISBN 9781904750185

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Abstract

Scholarship on the music of the Viennese composer Zemlinsky (1871-1942) is limited, consisting mainly of the work of Werner Loll and Horst Weber. Zemlinksy's Cello Sonata was discovered by Raphael Wallfisch, and world-premiered at Middlesex University in 2006, immediately following the International Conference on his work. The collection of essays was published in association with the Zemilnsky Foundation in Vienna. The work builds upon the recent growth in this new research area (see for example Beaumont, Faber, 2000). This chapter focuses on Zemlinsky's string quartets, from the perspective of my own professional and research interest in the genre. It identifies elements of his musical signature, and considers the balance between what was innovative and what was inherited in the sonatas. After discussing Zemlinsky's position in the musical canon, I re-appraise the term ‘eclectic' in relation to his aesthetic (referring to Adorno's famous article discussing the pejorative use of this term in descriptions of Zemlinsky's work: Quasi una fantasia, Frankfurt, 1963). Musical examples are taken from different his early and late compositional output – principally String Quartet No. 1 (1896) and No. 4 (1936) – and related to possibly personal ciphers (prevalent in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Viennese music) as well as some of the master-works of the past. Finally the case is proposed for Zemlinsky not so much as the compromised modernist, but as a composer of what we might now judge to be an early post-modern tendency in his embracing and making sense of the myriad approaches available to him in his time.

Item Type:Book Section
Research Areas:School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts
ID Code:719
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Deposited On:09 Dec 2008 16:00
Last Modified:13 May 2014 15:16

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