César Franck's string quartet was completed and premiered in 1890 shortly before the composer's death; he did not live to see the work published. This publication draws on the first edition, the engravers copy used for the first edition and the sketches with their many crossed out attempts which contain an earlier version of the first movement as well as a copy of the autograph. Franck's letters and a set of hand-written parts which he produced for Eugene Ysaÿe's string quartet have also been taken into account.
In her foreword, the editor Christine Strucken-Paland portrays the significance of the string quartet for Parisian musical life at the end of the 19th century and places it in the context of the composers other late chamber music works. She also describes the works development, its publication and reception and discusses aspects of performance practice. The facsimiles show Francks struggles with the opening movement and the critical commentary lists variant readings found in the sources.