Back Young Artist Program. Back Rentals. Back American Opera Initiative. Program Information Past Commissions Apply. String Quartet No. Petersburg asking Beethoven for? Beethoven was elated by the commission, and he immediately accepted it and set the fee of 50 ducats for each quartet, a high price, but one readily accepted by Galitzin.
String Quartet No. 15 (Beethoven) - Wikipedia
The music, however, took somewhat longer. The Ninth Symphony was completed in February , but Beethoven, exhausted, was unable to begin Galitzin's quartets until May. I am really impatient to have a new quartet of yours,? Nevertheless, I beg you not to mind and to be guided in this only by your inspiration and the disposition of your mind.? The first of the quartets for Galitzin E-flat major, Op. The Op. Beethoven had begun sketching the piece by the end of the previous year, but before he could progress very far with it, he was stricken with a serious intestinal inflammation, a frequent bane of his later years.
I am not feeling well,? Anton Braunhofer on April 18th. I hope that you will not refuse to come to my help, for I am in great pain.? Braunhofer was alarmed by the composer's condition, and gave him strict advice:? No wine; no coffee; no spices of any kind I'll wager that if you take a drink of spirits, you'll be lying weak and exhausted on your back in a few hours.?
The physician also recommended a recuperation in the country to allow for the plentiful imbibing of?
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Beethoven had recovered sufficiently by May 7th to repair to the distant Viennese suburb of Baden, and remained there? It was at Baden that the A minor Quartet was largely written. Beethoven's illness and recovery touch directly on the music of the Quartet, which takes as its centerpiece a magnificent Adagio titled? Though not specifically programmatic, the Quartet, whose overall structure follows the minor-to-major, dark-to-light progression familiar from the Fifth and Ninth Symphonies, evidences what Joseph de Marliave called?
Maynard Solomon observed that? Basil Lam summarized the structural logic of the A minor Quartet in the following manner:? No other composition in all Beethoven's works shows the unintegrated contrasts of this Quartet. Once he had become possessed by the unique vision of the Heiliger Dankgesang [? Holy Song of Thanks' ], no solution of the formal problem was available other than to surround it with sound images united only by their total diversity.?
The Adagio , then, is not only the central element in the five-movement structure of the Quartet, but is also its expressive heart. The movement's form alternates varied versions of a hymnal theme of otherworldly stillness based on the ancient church modes with a more rhythmically dynamic strain marked?
The Heiliger Dankgesang is one of the most rapturous creations in 19th-century music. To support a slow movement of such magnitude requires surrounding music of considerable breadth and emotional weight, and Beethoven chose to precede it with a large sonata form and a fully developed scherzo-and-trio. The opening movement, craggy and sometimes even belligerently willful in its progress, is based on several terse ideas presented in the exposition: a slow-moving motive in melodic half-steps; a melancholy violin line with dotted rhythms; a playful little imitative episode that serves as the formal second theme; and a more lyrical strain presented by the violins above a galloping triplet accompaniment.
There is a brief development section, mostly based on the half-step motive and the melancholy melody, before the apparent recapitulation of the themes begins. Though the themes are presented in proper order and balance, they are not adjusted as to key, and another full recapitulation, suitably transposed, is required before the movement can end.
The long scherzo, in A major, developed almost entirely from the violin motive heard in the fifth measure, is paired with a central trio whose flowing themes are often rhythmically displaced. Beethoven followed the transcendent Heiliger Dankgesang with one of his most glaring formal incongruities?
This movement lasts only a short time, however, and it is linked to the finale by an instrumental recitative, as Beethoven had done in the Ninth Symphony. The last movement, in fact, is based on a theme that he had originally intended for that Symphony, but which here becomes the subject for a vast sonata-rondo that gains the hard-won, victorious luminosity of A major in its closing pages.
The "late" quartets of Beethoven are also his final compositions. After all the revolutionary piano sonatas, the monumental symphonies including the apotheosis of the 9th, the opera, the Missa solemnis , the brilliant corpus of diverse chamber music and even tentative sketches for a 10th symphony, Beethoven occupied his last few years exclusively with the intimate and exacting genre of the string quartet.
With the preceding five quartets Beethoven had already revolutionized this genre as well. Since then, well over a decade had passed including some of the most personally challenging years of his life. Since , according to most accounts, Beethoven was completely deaf. He was now fifty-three years old with but three years left. November of brought a commission to write "one, two or three" quartets from Prince Nicholas Galitzin, an amateur cellist from St. By mid, Beethoven began work in earnest ultimately finishing five quartets, in order, Op.
String Quartet No.15 in A Minor, Op.132
And that was all. With these final works, Beethoven created a fresh world of transcendent music that remains, in the minds and hearts of most, the unsurpassed pinnacle of Western classical chamber music. About the Grosse Fugue alone, Stravinsky famously remarked that it was the first piece of modern music, to remain eternally modern. The String Quartet No.
Sketches indicate that Beethoven planned a four-movement design, but his focus was interrupted by a severe bout of debilitating illness. Upon recovering, he wrote a new movement of "thanksgiving" that became the centerpiece of a rearranged five-movement quartet. It was finished in July and premiered in the fall.
The quartet opens with something resembling a sonata though highly original in form like most of the late quartet movements. Four long notes in the cello intone an austere and immediately memorable motif made from two pairs of cramped semitones separated by a leap. The motif recurs sporadically throughout the movement in easily discernible permutations as a fateful signpost.
The permuted motif also recurs in the subsequent quartets Op. A sudden flight in the violin lands on a second, equally memorable motif that sets the music in motion with a mournful, dark preoccupation in the minor home key. The music gradually shifts into the second key area introducing a third important subject that sings the only extended lyrical theme of the movement, a warm melody in a major key with the achingly human tonality of the lower strings using a different solo voice with each reappearance.
With an astonishing fluidity of changing textures, mercurial shifts and disruptions and a rich expanse of expression from the tragic to the sublime, the allegro pursues a powerful drama of darkness engulfing light with a force and ultimate supremacy that is shattering. The second movement brings relief with the combined effects of key change to A major and the gentle sway of a triple meter at a moderate pace.
A rather "light" and, for Beethoven, tame scherzo becomes a foil for a contrasting trio of ecstatic grace, a delicate celestial music box glinting with a filigree of precious gold. As musicologist Michael Steinberg aptly comments, this is "one of the moments at which Beethoven's imagination for sonority and texture—the imagination, one is once again startled to remember, of a deaf man—is unsurpassed in freedom and freshness.
Perhaps initially most bewildering, yet ultimately the most sublime, is the vast centerpiece, the slow movement that Beethoven inscribed with a monumental dedication that Steinberg translates as " A Convalescent's Holy Song of Thanksgiving to the Deity, in the Lydian Mode. This is true as well of each individual movement of Beethoven's late quartets, and among these masterpieces, one finds a few of the most singularly individual and hallowed movements throughout the entire literature e.
String Quartet No. 15 in a minor, Op. 132
The lydian mode evokes the otherworldly sacred church modes of the Renaissance, and the hymn, the ancient song of praise to the deity. The music combines three instantly recognizable elements: a wisp of counterpoint, an austere hymn in four-part unison harmony, and a lightening strike of glittering virtuosity labeled in the score as "a feeling of new strength. As if sparked into primordial life by bolts of new strength, the tender green shoots of counterpoint grow into a rich lyrical vine embracing the cold stone of hymnody, ultimately blossoming into the most precious song you may ever hear.
Perhaps the shortest movement Beethoven ever wrote bridges this "song of thanksgiving" to the finale. As if from necessity to make us earth-bound again, a bold, proud march heralds the arrival of worldly poise, but once scarcely begun, it frays into a cloud of suspense rent by a passionately urgent recitative from the first violin: something else is coming. Without pause— attaca —the surging finale is upon us, a forceful allegro appassionato reasserting the dark cast of the quartet with the turbulent swirl of the sea.