All About Ludwig van Beethoven

Information on Beethoven, his life, his music and classical sheet music

Best 5 Beethoven Books on Amazon

1.Beethoven: The Universal Composer by Edmund Morris

2.Beethoven by Maynard Solomon

3.Beethoven: The Music and the Life by Lewis Lockwood

4.Late Beethoven: Music, Thought, Imagination by Maynard Solomon

5.Beethoven as I Knew Him by Anton Felix Schindler

Classical Sheet Music Downloads at Virtual Sheet Music

Beethoven's String Quartets

The sixteen quartets of Ludwig van Beethoven are highly acclaimed. The String Quartets Nos. 1-6, Opus 18 are thought to demonstrate his total mastery of the classical string quartet as developed by Haydn and Mozart. The next three, or the Razumovsky Quartets are extremely popular even today, as they greatly expanded the form and incorporated a new degree of emotional sensitivity and drama. These were followed by String Quartets Nos. 10 - 11, Opus 74 "Harp" and 95 "Serioso" (Beethoven).

Finally, the Late Beethoven String Quartets, which group includes his last five quartets and the Große Fuge, are the composer's last completed works. Though these works are widely considered to be among the greatest musical compositions ever written, their uncompromising intellectual complexity and their apparent rejection of the romantic pathos which pervades Beethoven's middle period both ensure that they remain considerably less popular than the Razumovsky quartets. Wikipedia - String Quartets

The string quartet comes to the attention of the composer only in the last years of the 18th century. The preliminary stage for this period was the composition of the trios for strings, op. 9.

  1. Quartet in F major, op. 18, no. 1
  2. Quartet in G major, op. 18, no. 2
  3. Quartet in D major, op. 18, no. 3
  4. Quartet in C minor, op. 18, no. 4
  5. Quartet in A major, op. 18, no. 5
  6. Quartet in B flat major op. 18, no. 6
  7. Quartet in F major, op. 59, no. 1
  8. Quartet in E minor, op. 59 no. 2
  9. Quartet in C major, op. 59, no. 3
  10. Quartet in E flat major, op. 74 "Of the Harps"
  11. Quartet in F minor, op. 95, " Serioso "
  12. Quartet in E flat major, op. 127
  13. Quartet in B flat major, op. 130
  14. Quartet in C sharp minor, op. 131
  15. Quartet in A minor, op. 132
  16. Quartet in B flat major, op. 133 "The great flight"
  17. Quartet in F major, op. 135

Quartets of op. 18 were published between 1800 - 1801 and were presented in the saloons of count Lichnowsky by a quartet conducted by de Ignatz Schuppanzigh. They were dedicated to prince Lobkowitz.

Quartet in F major opens the cycle of op. 18. And due to the musical dynamism and the powerful contrasts it is considered the greatest work of the six. The lyrical atmosphere, somewhat dramatic of the second part is very impressive, rendering the crypt scene from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet if we take into account Amenda’s assertions in a letter to Wiedemann, or even the indication on the score of the work, "The Last Sighs".

Quartet in G major no. 2 was also named “Komplimentierquartett” especially due to the extremely jovial character of the first theme, often interpreted as a sequence of ceremonial salutes. In its expression, the G major quartet pays tribute to the preclassical period, but also to the atmosphere of entertainment specific to the works of Haydn or Mozart.

In the Quartet in C minor, Beethoven moves towards the concerto form, an almost orchestral construction, outlined by the harmony and the cluster of secondary voices, thus allowing the first violin to dominate the scene.

Quartets op. 59 also known as The Razumovski Quartets, dedicated to the Russian ambassador, are considered to be genuine symphonic quartets due to the extension of the architectonic structure and the form in general, through the expansion of the space meant for development or due to the fugato style specific especially to symphonic forms.

Quartet in E flat major, op. 74 "Harfenquartett" realizes a new synthesis. It maintains the slow introduction and the fugato style from the previous quartets and brings the ornamental variations from the op. 18 cycle. The pizzicato effects are often used, the crescent arpeggio for all voices, hence the name of the quartet.

Quartet in F minor op. 95, "Serioso" contains the most powerful thematic contrasts. Beethoven goes back to the quasy-orchestral quartet type used especially in the key moments of the work. The elements of instrumental virtuosity of the first violin do not have an ornamental value, but a psychological one.

Quartet in E flat major op. 127 opens the series of the last Beethovenian quartets. It was composed a few years after his last quartet. It is fairly difficult to understand in its structure because it leans more towards the suite than towards the quartet. Its parts often fragment in contrasting interior movements. For instance, the first part is constructed as it goes: Maiestoso in 2/4 and Allegro in 3/4.

The last quartets are separated in three groups: op. 127 as the prelude of the cycle, the middle part represented by quartets op. 130 and op. 132, and the conclusion by op. 135. With respect to structure, the extreme quartets (op. 127 and op. 135) have four parts, whereas the middle quartets have 5, 6 or 7 parts, thus illustrating the tendency towards the suite.

Quartet in F major op. 135 was begun in the summer of 1826 and was finished very fast, in September. It was dedicated to Johann Wolfmayer just a few days before his death. This is the last complete work that he ever writes. However, he thought that he could still produce some works, so at the time he stated: "I can only hope I can give to the world some great pieces of music, and then, like an old child, to end my earthly doings amongst decent people." (Edouard Herriot, Beethoven’s Life)

Read more about Beethoven's music

  • Beethoven Symphonies - Each of the nine Beethoven symphonies analyzed.
  • The piano sonatas - Analysis of the sonata form and the most important Beethoven Piano Sonatas.
  • Sonatas for Cello and Piano - Discussion about Beethoven's five cello and piano sonatas.
  • Trios - General discussion regarding Beethoven's trios for various instruments and ensembles.
  • Sonatas for Violin and Piano - Overview of Beethoven's ten sonatas for violin and piano.
  • The Opera "Fidelio" - The background, subject and influences of Beethoven's only opera.
  • The Concertos - Beethoven's five piano concertos, his violin concerto and triple concerto analyzed.
  • The Overtures - Brief overview of some of the most important Beethoven overtures.