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.