Among his contemporaries Ernst Wilhelm Wolf (1735–1792) was considered somewhat controversial. Among his tasks at Weimar was the directorship of the Hofkapelle, which was founded in 1776 as the official court ensemble and was continuously enlarged. The poets associated with the court (Wieland, Herder, Goethe and others) provided Wolf with libretti for his vocal music and stage works. He composed about twenty singspiels (“operettas”), numerous motets, passions, cantatas and other sacred works, as well as a number of keyboard songs. His Easter Cantata, published in 1782 in Dessau, was widely disseminated. His instrumental oeuvre comprises ca. forty sinfonias and singspiel overtures, partitas and solo concertos for harpsichord and other solo instruments. In addition he left a number of chamber works mostly for mixed ensembles consisting of wind, string and keyboard instruments. Particularly noteworthy are his twelve string quartets, which were published between 1777 and 1789. Among his contemporaries he gained considerable attention as a pianist and composer of keyboard sonatas, sonatinas and fantasias, most of which were published. In addition to composing Wolf also wrote a didactic work (Musikalischer Unterricht, Dresden 1788) and a number of theoretical and aesthetic treatises.
Wolf composed twelve string quartets, eight of which were published during his lifetime. Two series (op. 1 and op. 2), each consisting of three pieces, were released in 1779 and 1781 by Johann Julius Hummel in Berlin. Apart from two string quartets the second series also contained a quartet for flute, violin, viola and bass, however. This was followed in 1785 by three string quartets, which Wolf published as his op. 3 with Heinrich Philipp Boßler in Speyer. While the first two series contained figured bass parts, the third series was published without. The archive of the Berlin Sing-Akademie contain a number of additional autographs of string quartets by Wolf (published in the present edition). These include a quartet in d minor (D-Bsa SA 3576(1) / SA 3581 (2)), two quartets in C Major (D-Bsa SA 3570 / SA 3571; SA 3574) and a sonata in D Major (D-Bsa SA 3577).
(Phillip Schmidt; translation by Stephanie Wollny)