In celebration of the 100 anniversary of the founding of the Busch String Quartet (formed in 1912), one of the great ensembles in the history of recorded Classical music, here is their 1942 New York recording of Mozart’s String Quartet in E flat major, K.428 (one of the six string quartets dedicated to Haydn).
Members of the Busch String Quartet:
Adolf Busch (first violin)
Gösta Andreasson (second violin)
Karl Doktor (viola)
Herman Busch (cello)
The following biography comes from allmusic.com (with additional information from The Strad, March 2012):
“The Busch Quartet was one of the most outstanding string quartets in the first half of the twentieth century. The early version of this group was founded in 1912 as the Vienna Konzertvereinsquartett, with Adolf Busch as leader and first violinist, but the outbreak of war in 1914 ended this group. Even before demobilization was declared in November 1918, Busch founded a second quartet under his own name, holding over cellist Paul Grümmer from the earlier group. In 1921 violist Karl Doktor, also an original member, likewise rejoined, and Swede Gösta Andreasson, one of Busch’s students, accepted the second chair. This became the Busch Quartet of the 1920s, and there would be only one more overall change in the group when Grümmer retired in 1930 — he was replaced by Adolf Busch’s younger brother Hermann Busch. The “fifth Beatle” of the Busch Quartet was pianist Rudolf Serkin, who joined them in quintet literature such as Schubert’s Trout.
The quartet’s recording career began in 1931, but Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 led the members to scatter. At first, Busch resettled in Basel in neutral Switzerland, and the group resumed its activities, including making some more recordings in London. Ultimately, Busch relocated to the United States when the Second World War appeared imminent, and the Busch Quartet made its final recordings for Columbia Records in New York. The Busch Quartet disbanded in 1943-4 when Doktor’s health began to fail. After two years of disbandment, the Busch brothers started again with new players of the inner parts, Ernest Drucker (replaced by Bruno Straumann in 1947) and Hugo Gottesmann. In a final performance in Vermont in 1951, Philipp Naegele stood in for an ailing Gottesmann. The end came with Adolf Busch’s retirement at the end of 1951 – he passed away six months later.”
The Busch Quartet recorded all of the late quartets of Beethoven and all of best-known chamber music of Schubert, Schumann, and Brahms — this was before the development of the LP record. When Serkin joined them and additional parts were filled out by friends and other musicians, the group became the Busch Chamber Players, and in this configuration recorded the first complete set of J.S. Bach‘s Brandenburg Concertos in London in 1935. “