Born in Vienna in 1871 and died in exile in the US in 1942, the composer and teacher Alexander Zemlinsky, whose pupils included Arnold Schoenberg, took the position of an intermediary between the music of Romanticism and that of classical Modernism. Zemlinsky worked as a Kapellmeister in Vienna from 1900 on, later also in Prague and – until the National Socialists seized power – at the Krolloper in Berlin. He wrote eight operas, four symphonies and an extensive oeuvre of songs and chamber music works. Premiered in Vienna in 1918, his Second String Quartet, op. 15 was characterized by Anton Webern with the term “Wende” (turning point), and in doing so, he succinctly summed up the developmental significance of the work: Zemlinsky’s economy of compositional means placed at the service of an Expressionism taken to its extreme made Schoenberg’s move to “composition with twelve tones relating only to one another” three years later seem only logical.
The young French ensemble Quatuor Arod, founded in 2013, which has been acclaimed at the Verbier Festival and the Septembre Musical de Montreux among others, presents Zemlinsky’s Second String Quartet at the end of a concert as part of its debut in Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation concerts. The programme ranges from works by the founder of the genre, Joseph Haydn, to the presentation of Anton Webernʼs Slow Movement for String Quartet.