The Beethoven String Quartets


Along with his symphonies and piano sonatas, Beethoven’s string quartets span his career, charting the evolution of his musical style. In the early years of his life in Vienna, Beethoven laboured hard to master the art of composing for this demanding medium, writing in 1801 of the Op. 18 quartets, “only now do I know how to write quartets properly”.

Beethoven goes on to write five further quartets in his so-called middle period and then there is a gap of 14 years when, having written the last of his major piano works, the Missa Solemnis and the Choral Symphony, he composes the six late quartets - some of his most complex and profound musical utterances.

In this day school Dr. Peter Copley will explore these works, tracing the influences on the young Beethoven, analysing the characteristics of Beethoven’s quartet writing and following the development of his music through to the extraordinary quartets of his later life.

This course will close for enrolment 2 days prior to the start date

Programme details

Registration for in-person attendees

Early influences: the Op. 18 quartets

Coffee/tea break

The middle period: The Rasumovsky quartets

Lunch break

The late quartets - I

Coffee/tea break

The late quartets - II

Course disperses


Description Costs
Tuition - in-person attendance (includes tea/coffee) £85.00
Tuition - virtual attendance £75.00
Baguette £6.10
Hot lunch (three courses) £16.50


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit or are a full-time student in the UK you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Peter Copley


Peter Copley D.Phil, MA, B.mus is a composer, cellist and pianist. He is a visiting lecturer at OUDCE, the University of Sussex and for the Open University, where he has been a Research Associate for the music faculty.


Accommodation is not included in the price, but if you wish to stay with us the night before the course, then please contact our Residential Centre.

Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email for details of availability and discounted prices.

IT requirements

For those joining us online

We will be using Zoom for the livestreaming of this course. If you’re attending online, you’ll be able to see and hear the speakers, and to submit questions via the Zoom interface. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

Please note that this course will not be recorded.