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. If the surviving members had wanted to continue after Joachim’s death in 1907, they would have had to compete with other younger quartet groups in Berlin, many made up of their former students.
In the three pictures below, none of the cellists use an endpin. This is because Hugo Dechert, Fritz Espenhahn, Arthur Williams and 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.
Quartets based in Berlin led by former students of Joachim
Gustav Holländer led a long-established quartet with changing personnel. Karl Körner was a member in 1888. Willy Nicking, Walter Rampelmann, and Heinrich Bandler were members in 1895-98. All of these players were former Joachim students.
Carl Halir established his Halir Quartet with Berlin musicians in 1893, before he moved to Berlin from Weimar. It lasted fifteen years, until his death in 1909. The cellist was Hugo Dechert, with violist Adolf Müller and Gustav Exner, then Carl Markees on second violin. Their subscription series was comprised of six concerts. For the 1905-06 season, they performed all the Beethoven Quartets on five concerts.
In 1898 the Joachim student Waldemar Meyer formed a Quartet that gave a subscription series in Berlin for at least ten 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 Dessau Quartet was founded by Bernhard Dessau in 1902. Pictured below: Dessau, Fritz Espenhahn, Konecke, Gehwold, all members of the Königliche Kapelle. 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.
The Wietrowetz Quartet, founded in 1905, gave a regular series in Berlin until at least 1912, and continued, on and off, until 1923. The other members were Martha Drews, Erna Schulz, and Eugenie Stolz, all from the Hochschule. After seven years, Gertrud Schuster-Woldau became the second violinist and Helene Bornemann-Ferchland the violist. I have not been able to locate a single photo of this long-lived ensemble.
Karl Klingler’s Quartet began subscription concerts in 1906. His older brother Fridolin played principal viola in the Philharmonic. Cellist Arthur Williams, who was English, and the Russian violinist Josef Rywkind had to leave Germany when war was declared. Williams left it too late and was interned for a year at Ruhleben, which ruined his health and career. The cellist position changed the most often in this quartet, which kept going into the 1930s. After Joachim’s death, Klingler’s Quartet kept his tradition going. They made a few recordings before WWI, which are considered the best audio documentation of the Joachim Quartet’s performance style.
Even after Joachim’s death his students continued to form quartets in Berlin: Wladislaw Waghalter in 1908, Adalbert Gülzow had a quartet in 1909, Alfred Wittenberg in 1912, Julius Ruthström, Gustav Havemann, Nicolas Lambinon, and Issay Barmas. Willy Hess, who previously had led the Gürzenich Quartet in Cologne, 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 Hänflein Quartet in Hanover was led by Georg Hänflein and was active in the 1870s and ’80s.
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, during which she married and had a child, Soldat reconstituted her group, which was based in Vienna from 1895 to 1914, and comprised of Ella Finger-Bailetti, Nathalie Bauer-Lechner, and Lucy Campbell.
Carl Prill led the Gewandhaus Quartet beginning in 1891 and, after he moved to Vienna, the Prill Quartet.
The Petri Quartet was based in Dresden from 1901-1915.
The Nora Clench Quartet (1904-08) visited Berlin in 1907.
Heinrich Bandler’s quartet in Hamburg was active from 1905, when the members were E.Hermann, E. Corbach, W. Engel, until 1929. Emil Bohnke and Karl Grötsch replaced the second violin and viola, respectively.
Carl Wendling had a Quartet in Stuttgart from 1912 into the 1920s.