The Bohemian Quartet’s recordings of Czech music and their meaning for performers today

Rosalind Ventris
bohemian string quartet, dvořák, early recordings, nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century czech music, performance practice, smetana, suk
Started in 2021



My research focuses on Czech early-twentieth-century string playing, as evidenced in recordings from this period, considering how this might inform performance styles today. I will focus on the Bohemian Quartet’s recordings of Dvořák, Suk and Smetana, which differ radically from modern interpretations.

I will examine the recordings in detail—investigating approaches to bow technique, portamento, vibrato, tempo and rhythm—and evaluate the Quartet’s place in the broader context of performance styles of the time, examining specifically Czech stylistic traits. Alongside these recordings I will also study written source materials pertaining to the Bohemian Quartet, such as fingered sheet music, pedagogical treatises and contemporaneous reviews. As an active performer, my knowledge of string playing informs my understanding of this topic, and the findings of my research will influence my playing.