When Smetana completed his Quartet in E minor in dark and dismal colors in 1876, he had already been completely deaf for two years. Which musician is not familiar with the fateful passage in the fourth movement, in which Smetana symbolizes the beginning of his illness with a violin note in an extremely high position? The previous movements tell of happier times in his life; an extensive extract from a letter about this is cited in the preface to our edition. Smetana, who at the time received a ridiculously small fee from his publisher, could not forsee that this work would later be considered one of the most famous string quartets of all time.
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