Donizetti Gaetano (1797-1848)
Alone among the opera composers of the period to dedicate themselves so thoroughly and continuously to chamber music, Donizetti wrote no less that 20 quartets (three of which are incomplete), initially at the behest of his first teacher Giovanni Simone Mayr. Mayr, like the fine Bavarian that he was, put enormous weight in his teachings on the composition of this supreme classical genre. Thanks to his encounter with the quartet, Donizetti acquired a mastery of composing for stringed instruments as well as a rapidity of writing and developing ideas, abilities which were already acknowledged by his contemporaries. And if it is true that the majority of quartets date to the period of his youth and formative years, it is highly significant that he returned more than once to this genre, even after his career in opera had been firmly established. On the other hand, the fact that Donizetti also utilized the quartet as a compositional “exercise” is witnessed by the ample sections written in strict counterpoint which often emerge, especially in the outer movements.