The second string quartet of 1883 is Smetana’s last chamber music work. Unlike the first string quartet, no programmatic explanation by the composer about this work exists.
However, this quartet can also be regarded as a personal confession, as emerges from numerous letters by Smetana. He wrote of the first movement: “I have my doubts with regard to the form of this movement. It has a very unusual form and is difficult to understand. A kind of breakdown prevails throughout the movement and will cause, so it seems to me, the players extreme difficulty. This is a result of my unhappy life.”
The quartet elicited mixed responses – the unusual character of the whole composition, its brevity, discontinuity and density were also seen by Smetana’s admirers for a long time as a sign of an incomplete creative process. However, the opposite is true. This work was far ahead of its time. In its uncompromising quality, it points the way to works of the 20th century.
The musical text of the new edition is based on the “Study Edition of the Works of Bedrich Smetana”, Volume XV – Chamber Music Works.
- Urtext from the Study Edition of the Works of Bedrich Smetana
- Detailed foreword (Cz /Eng/Ger) by Marta Ottlova