String Quartet no. 7, op. 96, first movement (1944)
Ernst Krenek (1900 - 1991)
The string quartet is intrinsically a musical format that can hardly be surpassed in terms of intimacy and intensity. “You hear four sensible persons conversing, you believe to profit from their discourse, and you get to know the characteristics of the instruments.” Thus Goethe’s greatly overtaxed quote about the string quartet. What is the conversation about here in the first movement of this Seventh String Quartet?
This string quartet by Krenek is based on a twelve-tone row: this means that all twelve tones of our tonal system are employed in a specific series as the basis for the composition. Krenek split this row into smaller units, which he pieced together anew time and again.
When the composer wrote the String Quartet, he had already spent a number of years in exile in the USA, and the twelve-tone row had become for him an essential germ cell of numerous works.