Amanda Maier-Röntgen (1853−1894)

String Quartet in A major. Version completed by B. Tommy Andersson.


I. Allegro
II. Andante - un poco animato - Tempo I
III. Scherzo: Allegro non troppo - Trio: Poco più tranquillo - Tempo I
4. Finale: Presto

  • Work category: String quartet
  • Duration: 26 min

Examples of printed editions

Levande musikarv, Stockholm 2021. Critical edition by Klas Gagge. Version completed by B. Tommy Andersson 2018.

  • Location autograph: Musik- och teaterbiblioteket

Description of work

I. Allegro A major 3/4
II. Andante D major 6/8
III. Scherzo: Allegro non troppo C-sharp minor 3/4 - Trio: Poco più tranquillo A major 3/4 - Tempo I C-sharp minor 3/4
IV. Finale: Presto A major 2/4

Work comment

Amanda Maier's string quartet was composed following a difficult period in her life. Looking back on the past year in a diary entry on the last day of November 1877, she wrote: "I cannot believe that only one month remains of this both sorrowful and happy year." The year 1876 had been highly successful; she had scored triumphs with her performances of her own violin concerto together with both the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig and Kungliga Hovkapellet (the Royal Court Orchestra) in Stockholm, which of course had pleased her first teacher and most important source of inspiration: her father, Carl Eduard Maier, back in Landskrona. On the 23rd of February 1877, three days after her 24th birthday, her father was taken from her, after a long period of illness. For the first time, she had to mark her birthday in bereavement, and the tremendous blow rendered the normally so disciplined musician unbalanced and rudderless – without her father's support, she would never have achieved so much as she had. Not until the 19th of March did she briefly play her violin: "It was somewhat peculiar, not having touched it for so long, but what a longing I felt for Leipzig; indeed I can hardly bear to play it." In Leipzig her secret fiancé awaited her – Julius Röntgen, the son of the concertmaster of the Gewandhaus Orchestra, Engelbert Röntgen, who had been Amanda's violin teacher since 1873.

She returned there on 18 May. In June she began composing again (following a hiatus that had then lasted two years), and she took composition lessons, as before, with Ernst Friedrich Richter, the cantor at the Thomas Church in Leipzig. In July, together with the Röntgen and Klengel families, she went to Wehlen, in the wildly romantic and beautiful "Sächsische Schweiz", a region whose natural beauties had already inspired artists, musicians, and authors like Caspar David Friedrich, Carl Maria von Weber, Hans Christian Andersen, and Richard Wagner. The scenery had a major impact on Amanda, and she deepened her acquaintance with it on long hikes.

Upon her return to Leipzig she wrote in her diary: "So one might say a period has come to an end; now the work starts with great fervour, and my strength has been gathered, and we shall see what my appetite is like." Thus, in the autumn of 1877 her string quartet was created, and her diary provides glimpses of her changing moods during this process. On 5 September a first mention is made of a Scherzo for string quartet, in connection with a lesson with Richter. This Scherzo reappears at a lesson on 19 September, though now with a new trio section. The first movement was begun at a lesson on 26 September, but the next lesson was postponed, and the following comment from 15 October reveals that the work was not proceeding smoothly:
"Composed, at least once again; nearly thought I had nothing left to write; what a joy it is when I make a little progress, but if I have to struggle too much, I am happy just to let it go. Did not go out but remained diligent."

On 25 October, the first movement was finished. The Andante is mentioned for the first time at the lesson on the 8th and again on the 15th of November, when she had composed a new ending for the movement, and also started the Finale. The Finale is then mentioned again on 22 November and for the last time on 29 November, when it was regarded as complete.

At the same time as she was undertaking her first venture into the domain of the string quartet, Amanda often played in a string quartet consisting of her teacher, her secret fiancé, and the latter's cousin, the celebrated cellist Julius Klengel. They tackled weighty works during this time: Beethoven's B-flat major quartet op. 130, with its so-called Grosse Fuge, Schumann's quartet in A minor, and a quartet by Haydn in D Major, op. 64:5, all of which they also performed at concerts in Bernburg (21 October) and Leipzig (2 December).

Amanda's own Scherzo was performed on 30 September in connection with Engelbert Röntgen's birthday in his home, along with Beethoven's Grosse Fuge.
On 21 November Amanda was assiduously working on her quartet, and in the evening, in the Röntgen home, she met for the first time the English composer Ethel Smyth, who had arrived in Leipzig during the autumn to study at the conservatory there.
Amanda's string quartet is not mentioned again in her diary until March, and then in connection with an attempt at a string quartet by Ethel Smyth. On 22 March 1878, Amanda wrote in her diary: "Ms Smyth's first movement from a violin quartet, rather dull, with no form or even modulations, but suitably written for the purpose and therefore sounding fairly good. My movement thereafter."

By "my movement" she meant her Scherzo. On 24 March Smyth's and Maier's quartet movements were played again at the home of the Klengel family, together with Beethoven's quartet in B-flat Major, op. 18. After that, Amanda never mentions her string quartet again in her diary.

Since the 1990s, the manuscript of the string quartet has been stored in the Amanda Maier collection at the Music and Theatre Library in Stockholm. For unknown reasons, the work did not arrive at the library in its complete form. The first movement is interrupted just before the ending, and some sheets of manuscript paper seem quite simply to be missing. Both one lengthy and multiple shorter fragments of the last movement exist, which were presumable originally intended to be worked into a longer whole. The only fully complete movements are the Andante and the Scherzo.
B Tommy Andersson's complementary version of the string quartet (2018) was made possible by a generous grant from the association Kungliga Filharmonikernas Vänförening ('Friends of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra').

© Klas Gagge, Levande musikarv. Trans. Donald MacQueen.