The Quartet was founded in Budapest by three pupils of Antonín Bennewitz (Karel Hoffmann, Josef Suk and Oskar Nedbal) and a pupil of Hanuš Wihan (Otakar Berger); Bennewitz and Wihan were both teachers at the Prague Conservatory. Wihan had himself studied at Prague, and was cellist of the chamber quartet of Ludwig II in Munich, becoming Professor at Prague in 1888. He replaced his student Otakar Berger as cellist in the quartet when Berger died prematurely. Wihan then directed the Quartet until 1913 when the strain of touring obliged him to retire from it and resume his teaching. His place was then taken by Ladislav Zelenka (b. 1881), who since 1911 had been playing with the Ševčík-Lhatsky Quartet. The group made repeated tours in Europe, especially with the quartets of Dvořák and Smetana, and were noted for their warm tone and fiery rhythms. In 1922 the four members were appointed professors at the Prague Conservatory.
Many key contemporary works were written for and/or first performed by the Bohemian Quartet. Most notably, this included works by Antonín Dvořák and Leoš Janáček, such as Janáček's second string quartet, subtitled "Intimate Letters".
- Smetana: Quartet no. 1 in E minor (1876) (Polydor 78rpm, 95076-95079). (as 'Bohemian Quartet')
- Smetana: Quartet no. 2 in D minor (1882) (Pathé 78rpm X 86005-86008) (Private recording for Czech Academy).
- Dvořák: Quartet no 6 in F major op 96 (Polydor 78rpm, 95084-95086). (as 'Bohemian (Suk) Quartet')
- Dvořák: Quartet no 3 in E flat major op 51, Dumka only (Polydor 78rpm, 95087).(ditto)
- Suk: Quartet no 1 in B major op 11 (Polydor 78rpm, 95080-95083).
- A. Eaglefield-Hull, A Dictionary of Modern Music and Musicians (Dent, London 1924).
- -. Boleska, Ten Years of the Czech Quartet (M. Urbánek, Prague 1902).
- J.R. Bennett, Smetana on 3000 Records (Oakwood Press 1974).
- R.D. Darrell, The Gramophone Shop Encyclopedia of Recorded Music (New York 1936).
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