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Beethoven Quartets Purchase Now 

Studying Ludwig van Beethoven through his magnificent 16 string quartets played by well-established ensembles from around the world: the Guarneri, Takács, Tokyo, and Alban Berg string quartets. The string quartets offer well-defined early, middle, and late stages both in his life as well as the string quartet as a form, including the Grosse Fuge, Op.133 (which Beethoven wrote while he was stone deaf), and the Cavatina from String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat Major.

 


 

 
Program 1

Bill examines three of Beethoven's early string quartets and illuminates how the composer made this still relatively young musical form his own despite the imposing shadow of Haydn.

Beethoven: Op. 18, No. 3 String Quartet, I & IV
Guarneri Quartet
RCA 60456
7:56, 5:51
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Beethoven: Op. 18, No. 1 String Quartet, I & II
Emerson String Quartet
DG 447075
8:31, 8:44
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Beethoven: Op. 18, No. 2 String Quartet, I, III & IV
Alban Berg Quartet
EMI 62781
7:54, 4:26, 5:13
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Program 2

This episode features ​Beethoven's Op.18 No. 4,5,6, and Op.59 No.1 and 3. Bill touchs on publisher mistakes, gypsy rondos, string quartet parties, and the beginning of Beethoven's hearing troubles. 

 

Beethoven: Op. 18, No. 4 String Quartet, IV
Tokyo String Quartet
RCA 61621
4:18
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Beethoven: Op. 18, No. 5 String Quartet, III & IV
Talich Quartet
Calliope 3633/9
9:00, 5:10
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Beethoven: Op. 18, No. 6 String Quartet, III & IV
Emerson String Quartet
DG 447075
2:58, 8:15
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Beethoven: Op. 59, No. 1 String Quartet, I
Julliard Quartet
Sony 87889
10:37

Beethoven: Op. 59, No. 3 String Quartet, IV
Guarneri Quartet
RCA 60457
5:25
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Program 3

We pick up with Beethoven in the year 1806 with his string quartet commissioned by Count Razumovsky, the Russian Ambassador to Austria. We then hear "The Harp," nicknamed for the frequent use of pizzacato. In 1810, Beethoven published the last of his middle era.

Beethoven: Op. 59, No. 2 String Quartet, III & IV
Fine Arts Quartet
Music & Arts 1154
7:26, 5:18
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Beethoven: Op. 59, No. 3 String Quartet, II
Emerson String Quartet
DG 447075
8:49
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Beethoven: Op. 74 String Quartet, I
Takács Quartet
Decca 470847
9:36
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Beethoven: Op. 95 String Quartet
Alban Berg Quartet
EMI 54592
19:30
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Program 4

Beethoven’s later string quartets, including Op. 131. It is the most tragic of his quartets, and was not heard in public until 1835, after Beethoven died. However, Schubert had heard it and requested to hear it on his deathbed. 

Beethoven: Op. 95 String Quartet (excerpt)
Alban Berg Quartet
EMI 54592
2:05
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Beethoven: Op. 130 String Quartet, IV + Grosse Fuge
Emerson String Quartet
DG 447075
7:12 + :20
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Program 5

We wrap up with the Grosse Fuge as its own opus as well as what may be Beethoven's most famous string quartet, known by its German name, Heiliger Dankgesang.

Beethoven: Op. 130 (excerpt) Op. 133 “Grosse Fuge”
Emerson Quartet
DG 447075
3:48, 14:41
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Beethoven: Op. 135 String Quartet, III & IV
Alban Berg Quartet
EMI 76824
8:50, 5:44

 

The Exploring Music streaming website is supported by Mr. & Mrs. William Gardner Brown and the Richard P. and Susan Kiphart Family.  
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