Fibich, Zdeněk


Fibich, Zdeněk

Quintet in D major for violin I, clarinet, (violin II) horn (viola), cello and piano, op. 42 (score and parts)


Zdeněk Fibich

Quintet in D major

for violin, clarinet, horn, cello and piano, op. 42

(b.  Všebořice , Bohemia, 21 December 1850 – d. Prague, 15 October 1900)

I Allegro non tanto (p. 1)
II Largo (p. 15) – Più mosso (p. 16) – Molto lento (p. 20) – Maestoso (p. 23)
III Scherzo. Con fuoco e feroce (p. 24) – Trio I. Meno mosso (p. 27) – Tempo I (p. 30) – Trio II. Allegretto vivace (p. 33) –Tempo I (p. 37)
IV Finale. Allegro con spirito (p. 40) – Grandioso (p. 60) – Più allegro (p. 61)


Zdeněk Fibich enjoyed a broad and varied education. His father was a head forester of Czech descent, his mother a German woman from Vienna. At the early age of nine he was sent to a grammar school in Vienna. After returning to Prague, he completed his school training and moved at the age of fifteen to Leipzig, where he enrolled at the Conservatory to study piano with Ignaz Moscheles (1794-1870) and composition with Salomon Jadasssohn (1831-1902), a master of counterpoint. One year later, after a stay in Paris, he resumed his studies in Mannheim with the conservative composer Vinzenz Lachner (1811-93). He then spent several years in Prague, where he completed his first opera, Bukovina. At the age of twenty-three the newlywed Fibich relocated to Vilna, where he worked as a choral conductor, and where his wife and newborn twins died a short while later. In 1874 he returned to Prague, where he married his first wife’s sister the following year, and where he lived to the end of his days. A confirmed Wagnerian, he was unloved by the establishment in his native Bohemia, but nevertheless became an influential teacher (his pupils championed performances of his music even after his death). In 1895 he left his second wife to live with his pupil Anežka Schulzová (1868-1905), who wrote the librettos for his final three operas.

In addition to seven operas, nine melodramas, and twenty-one theater scores, Fibich composed three symphonies and another fifteen largely programmatic orchestral works as well as a great many piano pieces, lieder, and choral works. He was also an industrious composer of chamber music, producing two string quartets (1874, 1878), Theme and Variations for string quartet (1883), two piano trios (1872, 1876), a piano quartet (op. 11, 1874), a sonatina and two sonatas for violin and piano (1869, 1874, 1875), and a number of lesser pieces. His final piece of chamber music, composed after a ten-year hiatus, is the present Quintet for Violin, Clarinet, Horn, Cello and Piano, op. 42 (1893).

Commentators have always suspected that Fibich’s Quintet harbors a great many programmatic references. In one case, the theme of the slow movement (mm. 8-10), this is known to be the case, for it quotes the first of his Impressions (no. 45 from his cycle Moods), a musical portrait of Anežka Schulzová. This and other references suggest that he sought to express the love affair with his pupil and future third wife. The scherzo is meant to be played “with savage humor.” The Quintet received its première in Prague during a concert of the Czech Journalists’ Society on 11 March 1894. The performers were Jan Mařák (violin, 1870-1932), Detloff (clarinet), Troll (horn), Janoušek (cello), and the composer himself on piano. Fibich’s Quintet is unique not only for its colorful combination of instruments (it can optionally be played by a string quartet and piano), but in his oeuvre as a whole. It is one of his most valuable creations and fully deserves to enter the international repertoire.

Tranlation: Bradford Robinson

Deutsches Vorwort lesen > HERE

Score No.



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