Dvořák's fourteen string quartets cover the bulk of his composing career, from 1862 (No. 1) to 1895 (No. 14). The first string quartet was not his first chamber composition: he had written the String Quintet in A minor (Op. 1) in Summer 1861.
In 1887 Dvořák decided to rework the long forgotten quartet. He removed a good deal of what he considered the unnecessary "filler" in the original version.
The composition was dedicated to the director of Prague Conservatory, Josef Krejčí, who was Dvořák's teacher of music theory at the Prague Organ School. No actual performance has been documented before 1888, when the revised version of the work was played at a concert of the Umělecká beseda (Arts Discussion Group) in the Rudolfinum in Prague. The players were members of the orchestra of the National Theatre, Karel Ondříček, Jan Pelikán, Petr Mareš and Alois Neruda.
The work is composed in four movements:
- Andante – Allegro (A Major)
- Andante affettuoso et appassionato (F-Sharp Minor)
- Allegro scherzando (A Major)
- Allegro animato (A Major)
The approximate duration is 48 minutes.
- Anderson, Keith (2004). Dvořák, A: String Quartets Vol. 7 (CD). Naxos Records. 8.557357.
- Melville-Mason, Graham (2005). Panocha Quartet: Chamber Works Vol. 1 (CD). Antonín Dvořák. Czech Republic: Supraphon. SU 3815-2 138.}
- Šourek, Otakar. The Chamber Music of Antonín Dvořák. Translated by Roberta Finlayson Samsour. Czechoslovakia: Artia.
- String Quartet No. 1, Op. 2: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- String Quartet No. 1 on a comprehensive Dvorak site
- String Quartet No. 1 in A major, Op. 2, Bärenreiter