Amadeus Quartet

Amadeus Quartet

Infobox String Quartet
Name = Amadeus Quartet
Founded = 1947
Disbanded = 1987
First violin = Norbert Brainin
Second violin = Siegmund Nissel
Viola = Peter Schidlof
Cello = Martin Lovett|

The Amadeus Quartet was a world famous string quartet founded in 1947.

Because of their Jewish origin, violinists Norbert Brainin, Siegmund Nissel and Peter Schidlof (later violist) were driven out of Vienna after Hitler's Anschluss of 1938. Brainin and Schidlof met in a British internment camp; many Jewish refugees had the misfortune of being confined by the British as "enemy aliens" upon seeking refuge in the UK. Brainin was released after a few months, but Schidlof remained in the camp, where he met Nissel. Finally Schidlof and Nissel were released, and the three of them were able to study with violin pedagogue Max Rostal, who taught them free of charge. It was through Rostal that they met cellist Martin Lovett, and in 1947 they formed the Brainin Quartet, which was renamed the Amadeus Quartet in 1948.

The group gave its first performance as the Amadeus Quartet at the Wigmore Hall in London on Jan. 10, 1948, underwritten by Imogen HolstObituary of Nissel (Daily Telegraph 24 May 2008): [] ] . Touring extensively, the Amadeus performed throughout Europe, Canada, the United States, Japan, and South America. Noted for its smooth, sophisticated style, its seamless ensemble playing, and its sensitive interpretation, the quartet made some 200 recordings, among them the complete quartets of Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, and W.A. Mozart. Though they emphasized a standard Classical and Romantic repertory, they also performed works by such 20th-century composers as Béla Bartók and Benjamin Britten (who wrote his third quartet expressly for them).

The Amadeus was one of the most celebrated quartets of the 20th century, and its members were awarded numerous honors, including:
*The Order of the British Empire, presented by the Queen.
*Doctorates from the Universities of London, York, and Caracas.
*The highest of all German awards, the Grand Cross of merit.
*The Austrian Cross of Honour for Arts and Sciences.

The quartet disbanded in 1987 upon the death of the violist Peter Schidlof, who was regarded as irreplaceable by the surviving members. Brainin died on 10 April 2005 [Obituary of Brainin (Daily Telegraph 11 April 2005): [] ] and Nissel on 21 May 2008.


Further reading

*Muriel Nissel, "Married to the Amadeus: Life with a String Quartet", [ISBN 1-900357-12-7] , Giles de la Mare Publishers Limited

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