Earliest photo of the Quartet with de Ahna

Earliest photo of the Quartet with de Ahna

Heinrich de Ahna (1835-1892) played viola in the original formation, and then switched to second violin after Ernst Schiever (1844-1915) left in 1872. The viola part was then taken over by Eduard Rappoldi (1839-1903) until Emanuel Wirth (1842-1923) arrived in 1877. Rappoldi was born in Vienna and studied with Böhm and Hellmesberger. He left Berlin in 1876 to become the concertmaster in Dresden, where he also gave regular chamber music concerts.

Heinrich de Ahna

The Austrian Heinrich de Ahna had an unusual career path. (He was the sister of the singer Eleonore de Ahna and the uncle of the singer Pauline de Ahna, who became the wife of Richard Strauss.) A child prodigy who had Mayseder as his teacher in Vienna, he was named a “Kammervirtuose” at the court of Sachsen-Coberg-Gotha when he was fourteen. But when he was seventeen, he joined the Austrian army, reaching the rank of Oberlieutenant before returning to music in Berlin in 1862, where he became Concertmaster of the Königliche Kapelle in 1868, and kept this position until his death in 1892. Joachim hired him to teach at the new Musikhochschule and play in the Quartet.

Emanuel Wirth

Emanuel Wirth

Emanuel Wirth was from Luditz in Bohemia, and had studied violin at the Prague Conservatory from 1854-61 with Kittl and Mildner. He played first violin in the Kurkappelle at Baden-Baden before spending thirteen years in Rotterdam. He taught at the Rotterdam Conservatory and was concert master of the orchestra from 1864-1877, but had made connections to Berlin during concert tours. He was named Professor in 1884. In 1906 and 1907 he had two eye operations that kept him from playing, and there were fears that he would never regain his sight, but the second operation was successful and he played in the last Joachim Quartet concert in Berlin. In 1910 he was the only surviving member of the Quartet, and retired from the Hochschule.

Robert Hausmann

Robert Hausmann

The cellist Robert Hausmann (1852-1909) was recruited by Joachim at age 16 to be part of the first class of the Berlin Musikhochschule. In 1876 Hausmann returned to teach; he ended up being on the faculty for 33 years. When Robert Hausmann joined in October of 1879 after Wilhelm Müller’s retirement, they were set until de Ahna’s death at the end of 1892. The second violin position went first to Johann Kruse, then in 1897, to Carl Halir, who were both former Joachim students.

Joachim Quartet with Kruse

Joachim Quartet with Kruse

After his death he was replaced first by Johann Kruse (1859-1927), who was born in Melbourne, Australia to German parents from Hannover. Kruse studied with Joachim at the Hochschule beginning in 1875, and was awarded one of the first Mendelssohn Prizes in 1879, and again in 1881. When the Berlin Philharmonic Society was formed in 1882, he was named principal violinist. He moved to London in 1897 and led his own quartet there. He also took over managing the London Saturday and Monday Popular Concerts in 1902.

Final incarnation of the quartet with Halir

Final incarnation of the quartet with Halir

The Czech Carl Halir (originally Karel Halíř, 1.2.1859-21.12.1909) was born in Hohenelbe, Bohemia (now Czech Republic). He studied violin with Bennewitz at the Prague Conservatory (1867-1873) and then with Joachim in Berlin from 1874-1876. For the next four years (1876-1879) he was part of Benjamin Bilse’s Kapelle in Berlin. He became concert master in Königsberg (1879), Mannheim (1881), and then Weimar from 1884 to 1894. He maintained his career as a soloist while playing in orchestras and ensembles all his life. On one memorable occasion, he played the Tchaikovsky and Brahms Violin Concertos on a single concert at the Berlin Singakademie on January 26, 1888. In his memoirs Tchaikovsky thanked Halir as one of the few musicians who would play his concerto. Halir premiered the Violin Concerto by the Danish composer Eduard Lassen, which was dedicated to him, in Frankfurt in 1889. He married the Berlin soprano Therese Zerbst (1859-1910) in 1888.

Karl Halir

Carl Halir

In 1893 Halir took over as concert master with the Berlin opera orchestra, the Königliche Kapelle, and joined the faculty of the Berlin Hochschule für Musik. At that time he started his own quartet in Berlin with Carl Markees, Adolf Müller, and Hugo Dechert. Later he also founded a Piano Trio group with his Hochschule colleague Georg Schumann on piano and Hugo Dechert on cello. Halir kept playing in these two ensembles after he became part of the Joachim Quartet on second violin in 1897, joining Joachim, Emanuel Wirth on viola, and Robert Hausmann on cello.

In 1906 Emanuel Wirth was out for almost a year while he had two operations on his eyes. Joachim’s student Karl Klingler (1879-1971) filled in during that time. Klingler had served as concertmaster for the Philharmonic from 1901-02, had joined the Hochschule teaching staff in 1903, and founded his own quartet in 1905, which lasted until 1935.

Karl Klingler

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