The Quartet was founded in Prague by three pupils of Antonín Bennewitz (Karel Hoffmann, Josef Suk and Oskar Nedbal) and a pupil of Hanu? 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 ?ev?ík-Lhotský Quartet. In 1906, the violist Nedbal had run off with Hoffmann's wife; during the tour in England, his place was at short notice taken by Lionel Tertis and afterwards formally by Je?í Herold. The group made repeated tours in Europe, especially with the quartets of Dvo?ák 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 Dvo?ák and Leo? Janá?ek, such as Janá?ek's second string quartet, subtitled "Intimate Letters".
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