Tempo „Nicht zu schnell“.

The Piano Quartet in A minor (also referred to as the Piano Quartet Movement in A minor) is an early work of Gustav Mahler, the intended first movement of a piano quartet that was apparently never completed. It is the only surviving piece of chamber music without voice composed by Mahler.

Mahler began work on the Piano Quartet towards the end of his first year at the Vienna Conservatory, when he was around 15 or 16 years of age. The piece had its first performance on 10-07-1876 at the Conservatory of Vienna (Anton-von-Webern-Platz No. 1) with Mahler at the piano, but it is unclear from surviving documentation whether the quartet was complete at this time. 

Frontpage score Gustav Mahler, Klavierquartett (piano quartet), Introduction Klavierquartett.

In several letters, Mahler mentions a quartet or quintet, but there is no clear reference to this piano quartet. Following this performance the work was performed at the home of Dr. Theodor Billroth (1829-1894), who was a close friend of Johannes Brahms (1833-1897).

The final known performance of the Quartet in the 19th century was at Iglau on 12-09-1876, with Mahler again at the piano; it was performed along with a violin sonata by Mahler that has not survived.

It appears that at one point Mahler wished to publish the Quartet, as the surviving manuscript, which includes 24 bars of a scherzo for piano quartet written in G minor, bears the stamp of the publisher Bussjager & Rattig music publishers; it has been theorized that Mahler sent the work to him, but he rejected it.

Following the rediscovery of the manuscript by Mahler’s widow Alma Mahler in the 1960s, the work was premiered in the United States on 12-01-1964, in New York City by Peter Serkin and the Galimir Quartet. Four years later it was performed in the United Kingdom on 01-06-1968 at the Purcell Room, London, by the Nemet Ensemble.

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