Florence Doé de Maindreville

Pistes d’analyse autour du Premier quatuor à cordes de Saint-Saëns/
Paths of Analysis: Saint-Saëns’ First String Quartet

“Solid classical construction”, as d’Indy wrote, Saint-Saëns’ first string quartet Op. 112, composed in 1899 and dedicated to the violinist Ysaÿe, nevertheless liberates itself from the ‘classical models’ in many ways. With regard to both the form of the various movements and the writing for string instruments, this work seems to diverge from the classical string quartet tradition. As a kind of ‘negative picture’, traditional analysis tools allow to find what deviates from the models, but cannot show all the particularities of the work, for which the context and the tradition of string quartet in France play an important role.

In addition to the usual methods of analysis, this paper intends to propose other tools for the purpose of characterizing this singular work more precisely.
Beyond this example, the problem of the analysis of French string quartets composed at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries arises: how should we consider these quartets, claiming to belong to the Austro-German tradition (particularly Beethoven), while turning out to be very specific?