1st string quartet (Beethoven)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Beethoven portrait by Carl Traugott Riedel from 1801.
Franz Joseph Maximilian von Lobkowitz, dedicatee of the Quartets op. 18, on an oil painting by Friedrich Oelenhainz

The String Quartet No. 1 in F major op. 18.1 is a string quartet by Ludwig van Beethoven .


When Beethoven tried his hand at the string quartet for the first time, it was flourishing. In the 1760s Joseph Haydn , who was also a teacher of Beethoven, established the genre; he and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart set recognized standards with their contributions to the genre. Jean-Marie Leclair and Giovanni Battista Viotti made significant contributions to the violin with their violin schools; other musicians wanted to do the same for the cello and viola. For all of them, within the music for string instruments, the genre of the string quartet was the most fruitful in terms of warmth, expressiveness and flexibility.

Beethoven's string quartet op. 18,1 was written in 1799 as one of six string quartets that were grouped under opus number 18 with a dedication to Prince Franz Joseph Maximilian von Lobkowitz . At the same time Lobkowitz also commissioned Joseph Haydn to compose several quartets. However, due to his age, he was only able to complete the two quartets op. 77; Haydn's unfinished Op. 103 followed a few years later. It is possible, but not proven, that Lobkowitz might have planned to have Haydn and Beethoven compete against each other in the manner of the musical competitions customary at the time.

While composing the quartets, Beethoven met the noble Josephine Brunsvik , who is considered to be the possible addressee of his letter to the “Immortal Beloved” written in 1812 , and her sister Therese Brunsvik and gave them piano lessons. Despite the extensive work on the quartets, he spent a lot of time with Josephine and Therese. Out of his emotions, which he developed for Josephine, he dedicated a song based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's I think yours with six variations. In the opinion of Beethoven biographer Ernst Pichler , references to this song composition can also be found in the quartets op.18.

Contrary to his numbering, Beethoven's op. 18,1 was composed as the second of the six quartets op. 18; the numbering in the opus number corresponds to the order in which the quartets were printed. Although the order in which the quartets op. 18 were composed is not clearly certain, since the autographs have been lost, it can be assumed from the sketchbooks. The fact that the F major quartet was published as No. 1 goes back to Ignaz Schuppanzigh , who led the Schuppanzigh Quartet , which is close to Beethoven and was often called " Falstaff " by Beethoven : He considered the F major quartet to be the best within the series op. 18; in this way Beethoven should be able to compete with Haydn. Beethoven's student Carl Czerny described this as follows: “Of the 6 first violin quartets, the one in D major (in engraving No. 3) was the first that Beethoven ever wrote. At the advice of Schuppanzigh, however, he made it appear in F major (although written later) as No. 1, presumably because the D major begins indefinitely with the seventh, which was unheard of at the time .

Both the original version and the final version of the F major quartet have survived, as Beethoven dedicated the original version to his friend Carl Amenda “as a monument” to his “friendship” . The influence of the music teacher Emanuel Aloys Förster prompted Beethoven to revise the F major quartet and the G major quartet after completing the six quartets , and he wrote to Amenda: “Your quartet is no longer available because I changed it a lot; only now I know how to write quartets, which you will see when you receive them. ” The original version of the F major quartet was not rediscovered until 1922.

Sentence names

  1. Movement: Allegro con brio (F major)
  2. Movement: Adagio affettuoso ed appassionato (D minor)
  3. Movement: Scherzo: Allegro molto (F major)
  4. Movement: Allegro (F major)

To the music

First sentence

The first movement, which began with the title music first from Joachim Kaiser's radio show Kaiser's Corner and then from his video column Kaisers Klassik-Kunde on the SZ-Magazin website in May 2009 , begins with a carefree theme in unison, that of the 1st violin is continued. The second topic, characterized by syncope, does not play a role in the implementation. Compared to the original version, the first sentence is tighter in the final version.

Second sentence

The second movement is a wistful adagio. Beethoven told Carl Amenda that the crypt scene from William Shakespeare's " Romeo and Juliet " had inspired him to write this Adagio after he said that it would remind him of the farewell of two lovers. Corresponding comments can be found in the sketches in French, such as “il prend le tombeau” (“he comes to the grave”) and “les derniers soupirs” (“the last sighs”). According to Beethoven biographer Ernst Pichler, the main theme of the Adagio is based on the song I think yours, dedicated to Josephine Brunsvik

Almost the whole movement is dominated by this melancholy mood; Only shortly before the end is this melancholy interrupted by a dramatic rebellion before the movement finally ends in a pianissimo .

Beethoven demands a metronome tempo of 138 eighth notes per minute for this movement . This specification is due to the property of the first generation of the metronome constructed by Johann Nepomuk Mälzel to specify at least 50 beats per minute, so that Beethoven could not specify the 46 dotted quarters he wanted. One reason for observing Beethoven's tempo specification of 138 eighths per minute is that the movement is interrupted by twelve general pauses and you lose contact with the 3/4 meter of the movement at a different tempo. In this sense, Friedrich Kerst also writes: "Beethoven never wanted to lose a hair's breadth of his tempo, because he identified the right measure in the movement with the inherent characteristics of the movement or its individual components."

Third sentence

The third movement is introduced by a ten-bar theme that initially moves upwards chromatically, the elements of which are transformed and combined in different ways in the course of the movement. The trio begins with unison octave leaps, which are answered by ascending and descending eighth-note scales on the 1st violin.

Fourth sentence

The theme of the fourth movement consists of descending sixteenth- note triplets . Beethoven mixed the sonata movement and the rondo in this movement, in which eighth note repetitions alternate with sixteenth notes and triplet figurations. With its 381 bars, the finale is intended to counterbalance the first movement; the latter would be as long as the finale without the repetition of the exposition.

Due to its cheerfulness, the finale also contrasts with the first movement; Beethoven wanted to meet his contemporaries, who were not used to the demands of the first movement.


Illustration by Reinhold Max Eichler to the poem Chamber Music by Hugo Salus (1896)

The quartet - described by Ulrich Konrad as the "portal into Beethoven's world of quartet" - was published in October 1801. Until then, private performances had taken place for the client, Prince Lobkowitz, which very likely inspired Beethoven to revise the quartets. After the publication, Beethoven wrote to his publisher Franz Anton Hoffmeister on April 8, 1802 : “Hr. Mollo has recently said my quartets again: full of errors and errata - published in large and small ways, they teem like small fish in the water, that is, in infinite - questo è un piacere per un autore - that means I 'prick', in truth my skin is full of stitches and cracks - from this beautiful edition of my quartets ”. A new edition of the quartets in 1808 also proved to be flawed; this probably no longer came about under Beethoven's control, since Beethoven no longer had any contact with Mollo. The copy made for Prince Lobkowitz, which contains the final versions of the quartets, is therefore important for research. Most of the corrections it contains probably came from Beethoven himself.

The only public review of the quartets was written by the “ Allgemeine Musikische Zeitung ” on August 26, 1801:

“Among the new works that appear here are excellent works by Beethoven (with Mollo). Three quartets give full proof of his art: but they have to be played often and very well, as they are very difficult to perform and by no means popular "

- "Allgemeine Musikische Zeitung", August 26, 1801, column 800

The first edition of the score was not printed until 1829, two years after Beethoven's death. The first pirated print was created in 1802, one year after the first print, by Simrock in Bonn.


supporting documents

  • Matthias Moosdorf : Ludwig van Beethoven. The string quartets Bärenreiter; 1st edition June 26, 2007, ISBN 978-3-7618-2108-4 .
  • Gerd Indorf: Beethoven's string quartets: Cultural-historical aspects and work interpretation Rombach; 2nd edition May 31, 2007, ISBN 978-3793094913 .
  • Harenberg Culture Guide Chamber Music, Bibliographisches Institut & FA Brockhaus AG, Mannheim, 2008, ISBN 978-3-411-07093-0
  • Jürgen Heidrich: The string quartets. In: Beethoven-Handbuch , Bärenreiter-Verlag Karl Vötterle GmbH & Co. KG, Kassel, 2009, ISBN 978-3476021533 , pp. 173-218
  • Lewis Lockwood : Beethoven: His Music - His Life. Metzler, 2009, ISBN 978-3476022318 , pp. 124-130

further reading

  • Theodor Helm: Beethoven's string quartets. Attempt of a technical analysis of these works in connection with their intellectual content , Leipzig 1885, ³1921.
  • Hans Josef Wedig: Beethoven's String Quartet op.18 No. 1 and its first version , Bonn 1922
  • Ludwig van Beethoven: works. New edition of all works , section VI, volume 3 (op. 18, 1–6, first version of op. 18,1 and string quartet version of the piano sonata op. 14), ed. from the Beethoven Archive Bonn (J. Schmidt-Görg et al.), Munich Duisburg 1961ff.
  • Joseph Kerman: The Beethoven Quartets , New York 1967
  • Boris Schwarz: Beethoven's op.18 and Haydn's string quartets. In: Report on the international musicological congress , Bonn 1970, Kassel et al., 1971, pp. 75–79
  • Sieghard Brandenburg : Beethoven's string quartets op. 18. In: Beethoven and Böhmen , ed. by Sieghard Brandenburg and Martella Gutiérrez-Denhoff, Bonn 1988, pp. 259-302
  • Herbert Schneider: 6 string quartets in F major, G major, D major, C minor, A major and B major op.18 In: Beethoven. Interpretations of his works , ed. by A. Riethmüller et al., 2 volumes, Laaber, ²1996, volume 2, pp. 133-150
  • Marianne Danckwardt: On the string quartets op. 18 by Ludwig van Beethoven. In: New musicological yearbook , ed. by Franz Krautwurst , 6th year, 1997, pp. 121–161

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Lewis Lockwood : Beethoven: His Music - His Life , Metzler 2009, p. 124f.
  2. ^ Jan Caeyers: Beethoven - The lonely revolutionary , CH Beck-Verlag, 2013, ISBN 978-3-406-65625-5 , p. 213ff.
  3. a b Ernst Pichler: Beethoven. Myth and Reality , Vienna / Munich, 1994, p. 162f.
  4. ^ Jan Caeyers: Beethoven - The lonely revolutionary , CH Beck-Verlag, 2013, ISBN 978-3-406-65625-5 , p. 218.
  5. ^ Georg Schünemann : Czerny's memories of Beethoven . In: New Beethoven Yearbook. , 9th year 1939, pp. 47-74; P. 70.
  6. Ludwig van Beethoven: Briefwechsel.Gesamtausgabe , Volume 1, ed. by Sieghard Brandenburg, Munich 1996, p. 46
  7. A comparison of both versions in Janet M. Levy: Beethoven's Compositial Choices. The Two Versions of Op.18, No. 1, First Movement , Philadelphia 1982
  8. Kaisers Klassik-Kunde in the Süddeutsche Zeitung - episode 40: The secret of the title melody ( Memento of the original from March 24, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / sz-magazin.sueddeutsche.de
  9. Klaus Martin Kopitz , Rainer Cadenbach (Ed.) U. a .: Beethoven from the point of view of his contemporaries in diaries, letters, poems and memories. Volume 1: Adamberger - Kuffner. Edited by the Beethoven Research Center at the Berlin University of the Arts. Henle, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-87328-120-2 , p. 11.
  10. Lewis Lockwood: Beethoven: His Music - His Life. Metzler, 2009, p. 127
  11. Gerd Indorf: Beethoven's string quartets: Cultural-historical aspects and work interpretation Rombach; 2nd Edition; May 31, 2007, pp. 167f.
  12. ^ Friedrich Kerst : The memories of Beethoven , 2 volumes, Stuttgart 1913; Volume 2, p. 34
  13. Gerd Indorf: Beethoven's string quartets: Cultural-historical aspects and work interpretation Rombach; 2nd Edition; May 31, 2007, p. 170
  14. Gerd Indorf: Beethoven's string quartets: Cultural-historical aspects and work interpretation Rombach; 2nd Edition; May 31, 2007, pp. 170f.
  15. ^ Ulrich Konrad : Beethoven's string quartets. Reflections and Introductions , Würzburg 1999, p. 51
  16. Ludwig van Beethoven: Correspondence, Complete Edition, ed. by Sieghard Brandenburg, 7 volumes, Munich 1996–1998, Volume 1, pp. 105f.
  17. Gerd Indorf: Beethoven's string quartets: Cultural-historical aspects and work interpretation Rombach ; 2nd Edition; May 31, 2007, p. 141