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String Quartet No. 9 in A minor

for string quartet

Year:  1935   ·  Duration:  20m
Instrumentation:  two violins, viola, cello

Year:  1935
Duration:  20m
Instrumentation  two violins, viola, cello

Alfred Hill

Composer:   Alfred Hill


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The manuscripts bear the date: ‘finished 20th January 1935’ on covers of the first violin part and the score and the last page of the latter. ‘Sydney 18th December 1935’, however, is on the cover of the cello part and ‘Sydney 14th December 1934’ is at the end of the score for the scherzo. The first performance was by the Alfred Hill Academy String Quartet on 14th October 1935.

The parts for the scherzo have their own cover pages with title and composer’s name (usually seen only at the beginning), leading to the conclusion that the scherzo was composed as an individual movement and later incorporated into this work. A curiosity is that ‘No.9’ appears to have been added to title Quartet for Strings in A Minor on the cover-pages sometime after they were written and only the name is at the head of the music. ‘No.9’ on the cover of the cello part is written over what initially was ‘No.10’. That, with similar evidence on some other quartet manuscripts and the results of literature research, leads to the conclusion that this was actually the tenth quartet. The nature of the missing quartet and reasons for its exclusion are uncertain.

Sometime in the 1950s Hill reworked this quartet to create Symphony in A Minor for String Orchestra , the score for which is undated. Andrew McCredie called this Symphony No.13 but there is no evidence for such a chronological placement. He had already published numbers for twelve symphonies before this one was located in the archive of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s music library and had no alternative but to so number it. (It had been catalogued there as Serenade in A Minor, a title at the head of the music but not on the cover). It now seems appropriate to only use the name given by Hill, Symphony in A Minor for String Orchestra. The symphony is not merely the addition of a double bass part but a thorough reworking.

from Stiles Music Publications

Contents note

  1. Adagio/Allegro
  2. Andantino
  3. Scherzo
  4. Finale

Performance history

14 Oct 1935: First performed by the Alfred Hill Academy String Quartet in 1935

06 Dec 2008: Performed by the Dominion String Quartet - Yury Gezentsvey, Rosemary Harris (violins), Donald Maurice (viola), David Chickering (cello) at the Illot Theatre in Welington

16 Dec 2008: Alfred Hill Brithday Concert

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