Notes on Mozart’s String Quartet in Eb K.428 – the third child entrusted to Haydn
by Beth Dzwil, FSQ violist and director
Mozart’s String Quartet in Eb, K. 428, one of six dedicated to Haydn, was written in the summer of 1783. In 1781, after meeting Haydn and hearing Haydn’s Op. 33 string quartets, Mozart was inspired to master this medium. These quartets were written without commission and were truly a labor of love. The manuscripts contain more erasures, changes and corrections than any of his other manuscripts. Along with the first two in the set, this quartet was premiered on January 15, 1785 at Mozart’s Vienna apartment with Mozart playing the viola. Haydn was present and afterwards told Mozart’s father “Before God, and as an honest man, I tell you that your son is the greatest composer known to me, either in person or by name. He has taste and, what is more, the most profound knowledge of composition”
On September 1, 1785, Mozart sent the the quartets to Haydn with this dedication:
To my dear friend Haydn,
A father who had resolved to send his children out into the great world took it to be his duty to confide them to the protection and guidance of a very celebrated Man, especially when the latter by good fortune was at the same time his best Friend. Here they are then, O great Man and dearest Friend, these six children of mine. They are, it is true, the fruit of a long and laborious endeavor, yet the hope inspired in me by several Friends that it may be at least partly compensated encourages me, and I flatter myself that this offspring will serve to afford me solace one day. You, yourself, dearest friend, told me of your satisfaction with them during your last Visit to this Capital. It is this indulgence above all which urges me to commend them to you and encourages me to hope that they will not seem to you altogether unworthy of your favour. May it therefore please you to receive them kindly and to be their Father, Guide and Friend! From this moment I resign to you all my rights in them, begging you however to look indulgently upon the defects which the partiality of a Father’s eye may have concealed from me, and in spite of them to continue in your generous Friendship for him who so greatly values it, in expectation of which I am, with all of my Heart, my dearest Friend, your most Sincere Friend,
We welcome you to join us on February 23rd at Eastern University’s Fowler Hall and on February 24th at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, to hear this wonderful quartet. Also on the program, Amy Beach’s String Quartet in One Movement, Op. 89 and Brahms Piano Quintet in f minor, Op. 34, with pianist Ken Lovett.