As a Berlin institution, the Joachim quartet was always sold out and every seat was always taken. But as their group entered the twentieth century, new quartet groups were on the scene performing the same classical repertoire and more. In their final years reviewers described them collectively as graybeards, grizzled old men, even though Wirth was ten years younger than Joachim, and Hausmann and Halir were more than twenty years younger. However, if the surviving members had wanted to continue into the second decade of the twentieth century, they would have had to compete with many other younger quartet groups, many made up of their former students.
Quartets based in Berlin led by former students of Joachim
Carl Halir established his Halir Quartet with Berlin musicians in 1893, before he moved to Berlin from Weimar. It lasted fifteen years without changing personnel. The cellist was Hugo Dechert, with violist Adolf Müller and Gustav Exner on second violin. Their subscription series was comprised of six concerts.
In 1898 the Joachim student Waldemar Meyer formed a Quartet that gave a subscription series in Berlin for many years. The others were Max Heinecke b. 1864 (2nd violin), Dagobert Lowenthal b. 1849 Königsberg (viola), and Albrecht Löffler (cello), b. 1867. This was also a six-concert series.
The Wietrowetz Quartet, founded in 1905, gave a regular series in Berlin until at least 1912, and continued, on and off, until 1923. Their series was of three concerts.
Pictured above: Karl Klingler, Arthur Williams, Fridolin Klingler, Joseph Rwykind
Karl Klingler started a quartet early in his career, in 1906. His older brother Fridolin played principal viola in the Philharmonic. They formed a quartet by adding cellist Arthur Williams, who was English, and the Russian violinist Josef Rywkind, both recent students at the Hochschule. The English and Russian players had to leave Germany when war was declared. Williams left it too late and was interned for a year at Ruhleben. The cellist position changed the most often in this quartet, which kept going into the 1930s.
The Dessau Quartet was founded by Bernhard Dessau in 1902. Pictured above: Dessau, Fritz Espenhahn, Konecke, Gehwold. Dessau was also a composer and his group performed more new music than the other Berlin quartets. In 1907 they played the Berlin premiere of Taneiev’s Quartet in d minor, op. 7 and Sinding’s Op. 70 in a minor.
In the three pictures above, none of the cellists use an endpin. This is because Hugo Dechert, Arthur Williams and Fritz Espenhahn were all students of the Hochschule’s Robert Hausmann, who inherited from his teacher, Theodor Müller of the pioneering Müller Quartet, the practice of playing without an endpin.
After Joachim’s death his tradition lived on in his students. In 1909 Adalbert Gülzow had a quartet, as did Alfred Wittenberg in 1912, and Wladislaw Waghalter.
Willy Hess, who previously had led the Gürzenich Quartet, formed his own quartet in Berlin after he replaced Halir at the Hochschule in 1910.
Other Quartets outside of Berlin led by Joachim students
The 1887-1888 all-female Soldat-Röger-Damen Quartett was led by Joachim student Marie Soldat-Röger and Hausmann’s student Lucy Campbell played cello. After a few years off, Soldat reconstituted her group, which was based in Vienna from 1895 to 1914, and comprised of Ella Finger-Bailetti, Nathalie Bauer-Lechner, Lucy Campbell and Marie.
The Nora Clench Quartet visited in 1907.
Carl Prill led the Gewandhaus Quartet beginning in 1891 and, after he moved to Vienna, the Prill Quartet.
Carl Wendling had a Quartet in Stuttgart.
In 1906 the Hilf Quartet and the Hösl Quartet visited Berlin.
Quartets not led by Joachim students
Starting in 1895, the Böhmische Quartet (or “Bohemian”) appeared frequently in Berlin and offered a contrasting style: Dionysian, according to one critic, as opposed to the Joachim Quartet’s Apollinian approach.
The Leipzig Gewandhaus Quartet and two Viennese quartets, the Hellmesberger and the Rosé, visited Berlin. An article in the Signale in 1902 added two other quartets to this list: those led by Henri Marteau, and Schörg (the Brüsseler Quartet).
In 1905 the Capet Quartet from Paris came to Berlin, and in 1906 the Hayot Quartet and the Sevčík Quartet visited. In 1907 the Petersburger Quartet, and the Münchener Quartet gave concerts in Berlin.
Just twenty years earlier, the Joachim Quartet had been giving concerts that had virtually no competition.