3rd string quartet (Schumann) - 3. Streichquartett (Schumann)

Robert Schumann, 1839

Robert Schumann's 3rd String Quartet in A major op. 41.3 is the last of a group of works that was created in less than two months in the summer of 1842, his so-called “chamber music year”.

Origin, premiere and printing

In 1842 Robert Schumann turned to the string quartet genre and studied the quartets of Ludwig van Beethoven in detail , as well as those of Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart . Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy's quartets op. 44 from 1837/1838, which he had heard shortly before, provided additional suggestions . Between the beginning of June and the second half of July 1842, a work triad was created in rapid succession (analogous to Mendelssohn), which was summarized under the opus number 41: The 1st String Quartet in A minor, Op. 41.1, the 2nd String QuartetF major op.41.2 and the 3rd string quartet in A major op.41.3, the latter beginning on July 8th, 1842 and ending on July 17th. The fair copy was also completed on July 22nd. In autumn of this year, which is also known as Schumann's “Chamber Music Year”, further important chamber music compositions were to follow with the Piano Quartet op. 47 and the Piano Quintet op. 44.

The manuscript of the three quartets formed a birthday gift for the 23rd birthday of his wife Clara on September 13, 1842, on which they were all played by a quartet led by the violinist and Leipzig concertmaster Ferdinand David . At the end of September they were played to Felix Mendelssohn in a private setting, who was very impressed. At the beginning of 1843 the individual parts appeared in print by Breitkopf & Härtel , with the composer's dedication to “his friend Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy in deep admiration”. As far as is known, the public premiere of the third quartet did not take place until 1848 in the Leipzig Gewandhausby the David Quartet. Schumann, who judged his quartets in 1847: "I still consider them my best work of the earlier time, and Mendelssohn often spoke out against me in the same way." [1] , asked the publisher to produce a score after Mendelssohn's death which - with several corrections compared to the individual parts - appeared in 1849.


The 3rd String Quartet in A major op. 41.3 by Robert Schumann has four movements and takes about 30 minutes to perform.

I. Andante espressivo - Allegro molto moderato

The calm, seven-bar introduction begins with the characteristic fifth of the 1st violin, which also characterizes the main theme and the rest of the movement up to the end of the coda in the cello. The song-like secondary theme of the movement following the sonata form, underlined by syncopated eighth notes, is in E major.

II. Very agitated

The second movement has a joke character due to its idiosyncratic rhythms , but the theme in F sharp minor is untypically led through four variations, the third with a siciliano-like rhythm taking the place of a trio.

III. Very slowly

The ascending, romance-like antecedent is followed by an expressive middle movement in which the second violin is assigned a static dotted accompanying motif over longer passages, which is taken up again in the viola as the movement ends gently.

IV. The final. Allegro very lively - Almost Trio

The cheerful, dancing final movement follows the rondo form , the motor skills of which are only interrupted by a somewhat calmer quasi-trio. The effective coda closes the movement in a radiant A major.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Letter to Härtel, December 3, 1847, cited above. n. Irmgard Knechtges-Obrecht: Chamber music. In: Ulrich Tadday (Ed.): Schumann Handbook. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2006, ISBN 3-476-01671-4 , p. 308.


  • Hans Renner: Reclam's chamber music guide . Ph. Reclam jun., Stuttgart, 8th edition, 1976, pp. 424-426, ISBN 3-15-008001-0
  • Irmgard Knechtges-Obrecht: Chamber music. In: Ulrich Tadday (Ed.): Schumann Handbook. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2006, ISBN 3-476-01671-4 , pp. 307-308.