Alexander Zemlinsky: String Quartet No. 3, Op. 19
Antonín Dvořák: String Quartet No. 1 in A Major, Op. 2, B. 8
Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet No. 9 in C Major Op. 59, No. 3 "Rasumovsky"
Antonín Dvořák wrote his First String Quartet in A Major, Op.2, when he was nearly 21 years old, but despite the early opus number, which suggests it was a mere exercise, the work represents much more than just an attempt by a novice composer. With Dvořák’s First String Quartet, the Dvořák Collection and the Chamber Series are presenting a work that exhibits formal mastery and romantic lyricism influenced by the style of Franz Schubert. Already clearly rising to the surface in this work by the young composer is his feeling for melodies supported by accompaniments of rhythmic fecundity. The music flows with the disarming naturalness that would become typical of Dvořák’s mature works.
The concert of the Zemlinsky Quartet will present a work by Alexander Zemlinsky, from whom the ensemble has taken its name. The composer and conductor was also the music director of Prague’s New German Theatre (today’s State Opera) from 1911-1927, and in his String Quartet No. 3 he created a work that is comparable to the music of Leoš Janáček, Béla Bartók, and Alban Berg. The highpoint of the programme will be an important classic, the String Quartet No. 9 in C Major by Ludwig van Beethoven. It is the third of the quartets commissioned by Count Andrey Kirillovich Razumovsky, and it takes the difficulty of the two previous compositions a step further. Regarded as nearly unplayable when it was written, today this music makes a brilliant effect, comparable to that of Beethoven’s great symphonies.
Since its founding in 1994, the ZEMLINSKY QUARTET has become a much lauded example of the Czech string quartet tradition. The quartet has won the First Grand Prize in the Bordeaux String Quartet Competition (2010) and also enjoyed a string of top competition prizes that include Banff, Prague Spring and London, where it was also awarded the Audience Prize. They have also been the recipient of the Alexander Zemlinsky Advancement Award. In 2016/17, Zemlinsky Quartet was appointed as the residential ensemble of the Czech Chamber Music Society. So far, the Zemlinsky Quartet has toured extensively in four continents. The repertoire of the ensemble is far ranging containing more than 200 works by many leading composers, including contemporary music. Since 2007, the Zemlinsky Quartet has recorded exclusively for the French record label Praga Digitals, having released fourteen titles including „Diapason d´Or“ award winning 4-CD set of early string quartets by A. Dvořák. In 2014, the Zemlinsky Quartet became only the fourth quartet in the history to record the complete string quartets by Antonín Dvořák. The recordings of the Zemlinsky Quartet have received universal critical acclaim. Having studied with Walter Levin (LaSalle Quartet) and Josef Klusoň (Pražák Quartet), the group now gives numerous master classes to students of any age. In 2006-11, the quartet served as Assistant Quartet-in-Residence at Musik-Akademie Basel in Switzerland. Recently, F. Souček and P. Holman have been introduced as professors of the Prague Conservatory.
The Convent of St. Agnes in the 'Na Františku' neighbourhood of Prague's Old Town is considered the first Gothic structure not only in Prague but in all of Bohemia. It was founded by King Wenceslas I in 1233–34 at the instigation of his sister, the Přemyslid princess Agnes of Bohemia, for the Order of Saint Clare which Agnes introduced into Bohemia and of which she was the first abbess. The convent was preceded by a hospital. The 'Poor Clares' originated as an offshoot of the Order of St. Francis of Assisi, and the convent was at one time known as the Prague Assisi. Agnes was an outstanding figure in religious life of the thirteenth century. Besides this Clarist convent she also founded the only Czech religious order – the Hospital Order of the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star. She was canonized in 1989.