Loeffler, Charles Martin


Loeffler, Charles Martin

Music for four stringed instruments (score and parts)


Charles Martin Loeffler
(b. Berlin-Schöneberg, 30 January 1861 – d. Medfield, USA, 19 May 1935)

Music for four stringed instruments

“He had … always a deep passion for color and scenery, and a real talent for all forms of decoration, which we hoped would lead him toward painting or architecture. His water-color sketches, done in 1913-14 in Paris, showed a great advance on earlier work; but the dreamer was still in his dream,—and art is concentration. His pleasure was in scenery. If you could place him in a position of danger and let him watch scenery, he was in heaven. I do not think he was ever completely happy in his life till the day he got his flying papers.” (John J. Chapman, excerpt from “Victor Chapman’s letters from France”)

Charles Martin Loeffler was born in Schöneberg near Berlin in 1861, although he always claimed to be from Mulhouse, Alsace. As a child he lived in several different countries, Russia, France, Germany and Switzerland. His affinity for French culture never diminished, and his musical aesthetics have an intense French influence though there he often includes eastern European thematic elements. He studied violin with Joseph Joachim and composition with Woldemar Bargiel, among others, in Berlin and finished his studies with Joseph Lambert Massart (also teacher of Kreisler, Ysaÿe, and Wieniawski) and Ernest Guiraud (famous for being Debussy’s teacher) in Paris. With letters of recommendation from Joachim, Loeffler immigrated to the United States, where he became assistant concert master in the newly formed Boston Symphony Orchestra, a post he held for 20 years before devoting his time entirely to composition. He died in Medfield, Massachusetts in 1935.

He also became fast friends with the writer John Jay Chapman, before Chapman moved to New York and started his family. In 1916, Chapman’s son Victor became the first American aviator to die in World War I. Chapman collected the letters his son had sent, combined them with press quotations and personal memoir and published them as a book in 1917. Loeffler read this book and was inspired to write this string quartet as a combination meditation and memorial. The music originally contained programmatic subtitles, especially in the last movement, but subsequent edits and revisions made these subtitles obsolete and they were removed. The only remaining external quotation is at the top of the work, the incipit of the plainchant “Resurrexi” (I am risen) which is used thematically throughout the work. The first performance was delayed for a year because of continuing revisions, taking place on February 15, 1919 in Aeolian Hall in NY by the Flonzaley Quartet. Loeffler continued to revise the quartet long after this performance until it was published in 1923 by G. Schirmer for the Society for the Publication of American Music.

Read full preface > HERE

Score No.



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