General information
Title CZSmyčcový sextet
Subtitle CZpro dvoje housle, dvě violy a dvě violoncella
Title ENString Sextet
Subtitle ENfor two violins, two violas and two violoncellos
Title DEStreichsextett
Subtitle DEfur zwei Violinen, zwei Violen und zwei Celli
Title FRSextuor pour cordes [auth.]
Subtitle FRpour deux violons, deux altos et deux violoncelles
CategoryChamber Music
Halbreich number224
Parts of the composition (movements)1. Lento - Allegro poco moderato; 2. Andantino - Allegretto scherzando - Tempo I; 3. Allegretto poco moderato
Durata18' 15''
InstrumentsVl Vl Vla Vla Vc Vc
Dedicatee Sprague-Coolidge, Elisabeth
Diplomatic transcription of the dedicationDédié à | Madame | Elizabeth Sprague-Coolidge.
Place of compositionParis
Year of origin1932
Initiation of composition20.05.1932
Completion of composition27.05.1932
First performance
Date of the first performance1933-04-25
Location of the first performanceWashington D. C.
Ensemble Kroll Sextett (William Kroll, Nicolai Berezowsky, Léon Barzin, O. Saltikov, M. Prinz, Ossip Giskin)
Autograph deposition
InstitutionLibrary of Congress
Deposition locationWashington, D.C.
OwnerLibrary of Congress, Washington D.C.
Note on the autograph depostitionParts in copyist's hand also located at the LOC. *** Autograph parts are held by the Bohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička.
CopyrightAssociated Music Publishers, New York
Purchase linkbuy
Associated Music Publishers, New York, 1948
Call number at the BM Institute: 1015
Specification of the edition: 1st edition
Details of this edition
References Related writings
Documents in the Library
Note There exists also an arrangement for string orchestra, see H 224 A.
About the composition

Having completed the Sinfonie Concertante for Two Orchestras, H 219, in May 1932, Bohuslav Martinů composed the String Sextet for Two Violins, Two Violas and Two Cellos shortly thereafter. The Sextet consists of three movements: the first and final are fast and rhythmical, and these embrace a contemplative central movement. The inner harmony of the piece is further enhanced by a pattern, according to which each movement follows a three-part structure. The third part of the movement serves, then, as a sort of reminiscence of the movement’s first part.

The String Sextet exemplifies thematic treatment that is typical of Martinů: the theme serves as a short model, which then throughout the whole composition is further developed and elaborated. Martinů’s Sextet won first prize of the Elisabeth Sprague-Coolidge Award competition, which drew another 145 participating composers from all over the world. The main prize, $ 1.000, finally enabled Martinů to buy himself a piano. The April premiere of the Sextet, dedicated to Mrs. Coolidge, was a huge success. The Library of Congress audience required the piece to be repeated once again the same night.

After World War II, American Music Publishers (AMP) in New York expressed a desire to add a double bass part to the Sextet. Martinů accepted the offer, and later adapted the Sextet’s score. The resulting composition’s string orchestra version, still richer in sound, was first performed in 1951 in Louisville, USA, and was conducted by Robert Whitney.

Sandra Bergmannová, programme of the Bohuslav Martinů Festival's concert, 8. 12. 1998

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