Stanford, Charles Villiers


Stanford, Charles Villiers

String Quartet No. 2 in A minor Op. 45 (score and parts)



Sir Charles Villiers Stanford

String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 45 (1891)

(b. Dublin, 30 September 1852 – d. London, 29 March 1924)

I. Molto moderato – Più moto – Tempo I – Più moto – Tempo I p.3

II. Prestissimo p.12

III. Andante espressivo p.18

IV. Allegro molto p.25

Charles Villiers Stanford’s String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, op. 45, was composed immediately after No. 1 in G major, op. 44. Jeremy Dibble reports that the first three movements were written between August 22 and September 1, 1891, with the fourth movement completed (after a “break” to attend the performance of his Battle of the Baltic at the Three Choirs Festival in Hereford) on September 25, five days shy of his thirty-ninth birthday. (The published score, however, gives “August 1891” as the date at the end of the last movement.) Although Stanford would go on to write a further six quartets, the Third (in D minor, op. 64) would not be completed for another five years, and the other quartets tended to follow at similarly lengthy intervals: No. 4 in G minor, op. 99 (1906); No. 5 in B-flat major, op. 104 (1907); No. 6 in A minor, op. 122 (1910); No. 7 in C minor, op. 166 (ca. 1918-19); No. 8 in E minor, op. 167 (1919). In other words, never again did Stanford write two quartets in such short order, a fact made more remarkable by the manifold differences between the two works.

One reason for the first two quartets’ dissimilarities may have to do with their respective dedicatees. The first quartet was dedicated to and commissioned by the Newcastle Chamber Music Society, an organization that had been founded in 1880 and that, still extant though now called the Newcastle upon Tyne Chamber Music Society, claims to be the oldest such society in Britain. The Newcastle group could boast (and still does on its website) performances by violinists Joseph Joachim, Pablo de Sarasate, and Eugène Ysaÿe, pianist-conductor Charles Hallé, etc. But another point on its list of early accomplishments is the commissioning of Stanford’s First Quartet. It is perhaps in keeping with a commission by an institution, marking an important moment for society and composer, that Op. 44 is clearly in dialogue with Brahms and Beethoven, whose styles might be said to exemplify the “tradition” of chamber music in 1890s concert life. The second quartet, by contrast, was dedicated “freundschaftlichst” to Richard Gompertz. Gompertz was a student of Joachim and had been appointed resident violinist for the Cambridge University Musical Society (CUMS) in 1889. This meant that he would have worked extensively with Stanford, who was then director of the CUMS. Gompertz led the CUMS Quartet, which premiered Stanford’s Op. 44 in Newcastle in January 1892, though it was February 1894 before the CUMS Quartet premiered Op. 45, this time at Prince’s Hall in London. So the Op. 44 quartet possesses qualities of an important initial essay in the genre—something that points to the composer and the commissioning body—whereas the Op. 45 quartet is arguably more experimental, more fashionable, more attuned to the soloistic possibilities of the genre. If the dedications for the two works are taken seriously, they confirm the nature of this essential difference between Opp. 44 and 45.


Read preface / Vorwort > HERE

Score Data


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Set Score & Parts


160 x 240 mm

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