HAYDN String Quartet in D major, Op. 20 No. 4
BARTÓK String Quartet No. 6
DVOŘÁK String Quartet No. 14 in A-flat major, Op. 105
Folk music has always provided an inspiring repository of material for classical musicians. Haydn's proximity to Hungary, by way of his employment at the Esterházy court, meant that he had regular interaction with Hungarian musicians. The Menuet alla Zingarese, or “Gypsy Minuet,” and finale of Haydn's String Quartet in D major, Op. 20 No. 4 show the composer's love of the folk idiom. Perhaps the one composer who made the most of his exposure to traditional peasant music was Béla Bartók. Bartók spent years traveling throughout Eastern Europe collecting the traditional music of the peasant population far from the urban centers. His thorough study and exploration of this folk music led to his development of a unique musical language that assimilated many different styles of music into one voice. His String Quartet No. 6, written just before his emigration from Hungary to the U.S. during World War Two, is the perfect synthesis of chromaticism and folksong modality that is typical of his late style. Dvořák began his final string quartet, Op. 105, while living in New York and working as the director of the National Conservatory of Music. His homesickness is apparent in much of his musical output of this period, as evidenced by the many Czech folk melodies that found their way into his works. Dvořák even suggested that the future of American classical music lay in African American spirituals.