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Artur Schnabel, String Quartet No. 4 - i Molto moderato

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Uploaded on Nov 11, 2010

Despite his performing repertoire being concentrated largely on the works of Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart and Brahms, almost all of Artur Schnabel's own compositions (none of which are in the active repertoire) are atonal. (It is interesting, in this regard, to note that Schnabel was a close friend of Arnold Schoenberg, his Austrian-American compatriot, who was famous as a pioneering composer of atonal and twelve-tone music.) They are "difficult" yet fascinating and complex works, and are marked by genuine originality of style. Composers Ernst Krenek and Roger Sessions have commented that they show signs of undoubted genius (see biography of Schnabel by Cesar Saerchinger). Schnabel's list of compositions eventually included three symphonies, a piano concerto, a piano sonata (premiered by Eduard Erdmann at the 1925 Venice ISCM Festival[10]) and five string quartets, amongst various smaller works.

Harmonically, the first movement of Artur Schnabel's fourth string quartet (dating from 1924) is by far the most complex of the quartet, making extensive use of "unordered aggregates" -- one per measure -- or, in other words, the use of all twelve pitches (or more properly "pitch classes") in each of the initial measures for quite an extended period. Indeed, one could speculate that this use of all "pitch classes" per measure is the factor which determines the placement of the barlines.

From 1925 Schnabel taught at the Berlin State Academy, where his masterclasses brought him great renown. Among Schnabel's many piano pupils were Clifford Curzon, Rudolf Firkušný, Adrian Aeschbacher, Lili Kraus, Leon Fleisher, Carlo Zecchi, Claude Frank, Leonard Shure, Alan Bush, Nancy Weir, Konrad Wolff, Jascha Spivakovsky, Eunice Norton, Henry Jolles, and radio personality Karl Haas. His last and favourite pupil was Maria Curcio.

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