Sextet (Dohnányi)

The Sextet in C major for piano, violin, viola, cello, clarinet and horn, Op. 37, was composed by Ernst von Dohnányi in 1935.[1]

Dohnányi in the early 1920s


The sextet was written in 1935 during a lengthy period of illness, during which Dohnányi was bedridden with a thrombosis for several months. It was premiered on 17 June 1935.[1]


External audio
Performed by András Schiff, Gábor Takács-Nagy, András Fejér, Gabor Ormai, Radovan Vlatković, and Kálmán Berkes
  I. Allegro appassionato
  II. Intermezzo: Adagio
  III. Allegro con sentimento
  IV. Finale. Allegro vivace, giocoso

The sextet consists of four movements:

  1. Allegro appassionata
    The first movement is composed in sonata form and seems to allude to the symphonies of Gustav Mahler.[2]
  2. Intermezzo. Adagio
    The second movement is a march.[2]
  3. Allegro con sentimento
    The third movement is a scherzo held in a more classical, Mendelssohnian style.[2]
  4. Finale. Allegro vivace, giocoso
    The final movement makes clear references to jazz, which European composers had started to embrace shortly after World War I, including Dohnányi's close friends Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály. The finale opens in a ragtime for clarinet and piano, after which the string trio responds. At the end, material of the opening movement reoccurs, in cyclicism typical for the late romantic period.[2]


A reviewer for the Budapesti Hírlap, who attended the premiere on 17 June 1935, wrote favorably of the work: "One of the sextet's greatest values is that it is melodically original. Every tune is invented, not borrowed, and not based on a quotation."[3]


  1. ^ a b Dohnányi, Ilona von (2002). Ernst von Dohnányi: A Song of Life. James A. Grymes. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. p. 98. ISBN 0-253-10928-0.
  2. ^ a b c d Böhmer, Karl. "Ernö von Dohnányi. Sextett C-Dur, op. 37". Villa Musica (in German). Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  3. ^ Grymes, James A. (2001). Ernst von Dohnányi: A Bio-Bibliography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. p. 144. ISBN 978-0-313-07440-0.

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