5 Stucke fur Streichquartett


Program Note

The “Fünf Stücke für Streichquartett” or “Five Pieces for String Quartet” is a suite of five musical pieces by Czech composer Erwin Schulhoff. The work contains stylistic connections to both a baroque dance suite and to other pieces composed by the Second Viennese School. The piece premiered on 8 August 1924 at the International Society for New Music Festival in Salzburg, and was dedicated to Darius Milhaud.
The Five Pieces for String Quartet were written when Schulhoff returned from Germany to Prague and inaugurated the most important creative period for Schulhoff that would shortly lead him to compose the bulk of his chamber music including the two numbered string quartets, the string sextet, a violin sonata and a duo for violin and cello. The five pieces comprise a dance suite, a neoclassical glance back to the Baroque era with the spiky dissonances, irony and rhythmic drive characteristic of the modern period. The music is skillfully wrought, accessible and compelling. It provides a perfect synopsis of several aspects of Schulhoff’s multi-faceted music: a sense of parody occasionally bordering on the grotesque (Alla Valse and Alla Serenata),
a clear element of Czech folk music (Alla Czeca), a love of modern, popular dance (Alla Tango),and a brilliant facility for rhythmic vitality (Alla Tarantella). Together, the pieces vividly express the words Schulhoff wrote in 1919: “Music should first and foremost produce physical pleasures, yes, even ecstasies. Music is never philosophy, it arises from an ecstatic condition, finding its expression through rhythmical movement”.

About Erwin Schulhoff

Czech: Ervín Šulhov; 8 June 1894 – 18 August 1942