The manuscript, entitled Quartet for Strings has four movements listed on the title page as: Allegro, Allegretto, Presto possibile, and Lento. There are holograph markings throughout in both ink and pencil, mainly dynamics, tempi and timings but a few corrections as well (mainly in the second movement). There are also major deletions on seven pages of the second movement, made in blue grease pencil and regular pencil.
Blitzstein came in contact with the preeminent composers of the New York music scene of the 1920s and 30s, including Kurt Weill, Aaron Copland, Henry Cowell, and later Leonard Bernstein, who became one of the most vocal proponents of Blitzstein’s music.
Blitzstein performed as a piano soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra at fifteen and attended the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, later studying with Nadia Boulanger in Paris and Arnold Schonberg in Berlin. Though gay, he married the novelist Eva Goldbeck (1933), to whom this String Quartet is dedicated. In 1936, Goldbeck died of anorexia and Blitzstein's grief prompted him to write his best-known work, The Cradle Will Rock, a pro-union musical directed by Orson Welles which caused a sensation and won national attention in 1937. Blitzstein was "the first composer to develop a convincing music-theatre idiom representative of American vernacular speech style" [Grove's VI].
Blitzstein manuscripts are of the utmost rarity in the market.