Violinist Leopold Jansa started a string quartet in 1845. Hellmesberger took over from Jansa in 1849, retaining the other members. Its initial composition was:
- Joseph Hellmesberger Sr. (1st violin)
- Carl Heissler (2nd violin)
- Matthias Durst (viola)
- Carl Schlesinger (cello)
At one point, the composition was:
- Joseph Hellmesberger, Sr. (1st violin)
- Adolph Brodsky (2nd violin), left Vienna in 1870
- Sigismund Bachrich (viola)
- David Popper (cello), from 1868 to 1870
Hellmesberger's son, Joseph Hellmesberger Jr. joined the quartet in 1870 to play the second violin and became leader in 1887.
Ferdinand Hellmesberger, the son of Joseph Sr. and brother of Joseph Jr., joined in 1883 to play the cello.
The Quartet played an important role in Vienna's musical life through the performance of quartets from Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, and Franz Schubert, premiering several of Brahms' and Schubert's chamber works.
- Hellmesberger family biographies, under External links
- Potter, The Cambridge Companion to the String Quartet, p.44
- Hellmesberger family biographies under External links
- Unknown Author (1903-04-01). "Adolph Brodsky". Musical Times. The Musical Times, Vol. 44, No. 722. 44 (722): 225–227. doi:10.2307/902923. JSTOR 902923.
- Clive, Peter (1997). Schubert and His World: A Biographical Dictionary. Oxford University Press. pp. 73–74. ISBN 0-19-816582-X.
- Potter, Tully (1999). "From chamber to concert hall". In Stowell,Robin (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to the String Quartet. Cambridge University Press. p. 44. ISBN 0-521-00042-4.
- Biographies of members of the Hellmesberger family
- Frederick H. Martens, "Violin Mastery: Talks with master violinists and teachers" at Project Gutenberg, including information about the Hellmesberger Quartet
- Hellmesberger family biographies