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Defining the String Quartet II: Beethoven


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This course aims to enhance your understanding and appreciation of Ludwig van Beethoven’s music by exploring a genre at the very core of his development as a composer: the string quartet. Evenly distributed among the periods into which his life and work are customarily divided, his 16 quartets offer a broadly representative record of his changing musical language. The six quartets of the first period followed closely in the footsteps of Beethoven’s teacher Haydn, the acknowledged “father” of the genre; the five quartets of the middle period significantly expand musical form as well as the range of dramatic expression; the remaining five quartets, written in the composer’s idiosyncratic “late style,” take the genre to unheard-of levels of innovation.

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Taught by music historian and Stanford Professor Stephen Hinton in collaboration with the university’s ensemble-in-residence, the St. Lawrence String Quartet, you’ll be given a critical overview of Beethoven’s quartets and their reception history. Using a mix of lectures, discussions and copious demonstrations, Professor Hinton will focus in detail on three complete quartets: one early, one middle, and one late. As a special course feature, you’ll view live performances by the SLSQ recorded in Stanford’s Bing Concert Hall.

  • About Beethoven’s transformative achievements in the realm of the string quartet
  • Strategies for describing, analyzing, and interpreting Beethoven’s music
  • How Beethoven’s compositions evolved during his career and how they have been viewed throughout history
Defining the String Quartet II: Beethoven
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