IVth Chamber Music Festival 4plus 2021

Antonín Dvořák: Complete Works for String Quartet


1) January 20 2021, 19:30
String Quartet No. 1 A Major op. 2, B8
String Quartet No. 7 A Minor op. 16, B45
Quintet for viola and string quartet E flat Major op. 97, B180
Host: Karel Untermüller (viola)

2) March 3 2021, 19:30
String Quartet No. 5 f Minor op. 9, B37
String Quartet No. 6 A Minor op. 12, B40
String Quartet No. 14 A flat Major op. 105, B193

3) May 26 2021, 19:30
Movement for String Quartet F Major, B120
String Quartet No. 8 E Major op. 80, B57
String sextet A Major op. 48, B80
Guests: Petr and Pavel Šporcl

4) September 15 2021, 19:30
String Quartet No. 2 B Major B17
Cypresses– version for soprano and string quartet (arr. Jiří Gemrot)
String Quartet No. 11 C Major op. 61, B121
Guest: Michaela Gemrotová (soprano)

5) October 13 2021, 19:30
String Quartet No. 3 D Major, B18
String Quartet No. 10 E flat Major op. 51, B92 "Slavonic"
String Quartet No. 12 F Major op. 96, B179 "American"

6) December 1 2021, 19:30
String Quartet No. 4 E Minor, B19
String Quartet No. 9 D Minor op. 34, B75 (premiere of the ballet choreography)
String Quartet No. 13 G Major op. 106, B192
Guest: Prague Chamber Ballet


In 2018, the Zemlinsky Quartet founded a chamber music series in Prague called 4plus, where the quartet is being joined by outstanding Czech and foreign musicians to perform many different works from the world of chamber music. There were two intense motivation ideas about this project. One of them was this: since a long time, the Zemlinsky Quartet desired to perform more concerts in Prague, to be able to design its own program of the concerts, and to be able to invite excellent musicians in Prague that it met during its concert performances worldwide. The second idea will happen now in 2021… Between 2007 and 2014, the Zemlinsky Quartet recorded the complete works for string quartet by the most recognized and perhaps most beloved Czech composer, Antonín Dvořák. The ensemble appears to be only the fourth group in history to undertake such a big and demanding project. Since the beginning of this project, the quartet members had a specific idea in mind: to perform this complete cycle in their home city – in Prague. The best year appeared to be 2021, as Dvořák has the 180th anniversary of birth. So, from the very first thoughts, the chamber music series 4plus had a target in 2021, where Zemlinsky Quartet would perform all 14 string quartets by A. Dvořák. On top of that, there will be a few other famous chamber music works added to this complete cycle.

The chamber music series has a tradition of inviting excellent guest artists to perform with the Zemlinsky Quartet. As there are so many string quartets in the cycle, it was not possible to have a guest in every concert. Though, the Zemlinsky Quartet found an interesting way to present at least a few of them. In the first evening, a great Czech violist Karel Untermüller will join to play the famous „American“ viola quintet op. 97 (written just weeks after the famous „American“ string quartet). The third evening will welcome two brothers – Pavel Šporcl and Petr Šporcl will participate in the string sextet. The next concert will have an unique piece on the program – new arrangement of Cypresses for soprano and string quartet made by Jiří Gemrot and dedicated to his daughter Michaela Gemrotová. And, in the last concert, we will present the Prague Chamber Ballet with a premiere of a new choreography on Dvořák´s string quartet D minor op. 34.


Dvořák’s first four string quartets were composed in the early stages of his professional life. They were quite extensive in length as the composer practiced and experimented with various composition techniques and skills – for example, his first quartet in A major was about 65 minutes long. Later, Dvořák revisited his first string quartet and he thought that it contained valuable musical ideas so he revised the score. Thanks to his revisions, the duration of the first quartet was edited down to a more reasonable 32 minutes…   But Dvořák did not consider his quartets No. 2, 3, and 4 good enough, and decided to destroy them. But, other copies of each of these scores existed, which thankfully, preserved these three early works so that they can be performed to this day. When Czech musicologists prepared the critical edition of these early string quartets, they presumed that if Dvořák had wanted these works to be performed, he would have revised them in the same way as he did for his first string quartet. Thus, in the critical edition of these three early string quartets, musicologists have suggested cuts in similar fashion to the ones that Dvořák made to his first quartet, so that the duration of these quartets are more reasonable and could be performed in concert. The three previously recorded complete Dvořák cycles contain the full lengths of all the string quartets. However, the Zemlinsky Quartet decided to record all the early quartets with the cuts, to make the comparison between the long and short version available. All the string quartets in the Zemlinsky Quartet‘s recordings of the Dvořák cycle are between 25-40 minutes in length, which makes it possible to have three quartets performed in each concert over five concerts for the complete Dvořák cycle.