The fifth String Quartet of Bohuslav Martinu is without a doubt one of the composer’s most important chamber music pieces, captivating in its modern, supremely dissonant and chromatic design. And yet until now the work has only been published in one edition (in 1959), and that as a study score. Musicians were thus forced to perform the composition, so difficult to typeset, from second-rate copies and their photocopies.
Martinu, who wrote the piece in Paris from April to May 1938, considered it to be of such a personal nature that his whole life he could not muster the resolve to publish it (the extant complete condensed score of the work contains a number of comments of a private nature, which document not only the circumstances of the work’s genesis, but also the composer’s close relationship with his 25-years-younger pupil and confidential lady friend, the talented composer Vítezslava Kaprálová, to whom he dedicated the Quartet). He only agreed to its publication several months before his death, and he took no part in the printing preparations.
The editors of the new edition, Ales Brezina and Adam Klemens, based their work strictly on the composer’s autograph score and were meticulous in removing all the problematic and somewhat wanton revisions of the first edition. This urtext edition of the score includes a Preface and Editor’s Notes by Ales Brezina (Czech, English, German, French).