William Sterling

Beethoven’s String Quartets

Beethoven’s String Quartets

A detailed examination of all the quartets, often with scores, placing them in context with comparisons to other works being written at the same time. Possibly the greatest composer of string quartets, the pinnacle of chamber music, Beethoven wrote 16 masterpieces in this genre over his whole career. Each week we analysed and listened to parts of two works and other contemporary works for comparison to examine how his style evolved. The quartets can be divided between Beethoven’s three periods: the first 6 (Op. 18) are typical of his early works; the next 5 (Op. 59 the 3 Rasumovsky Quartets, Op. 74 the Harp and Op. 95) are spread over his middle years and the last 5 (and a bit) (Op. 127, Op. 130, Op. 131, Op. 132, Op. 133 and Op. 135) are the epitome of his late style.

I have scores of all the quartets and 13 of the first quartet allowing me to use it for teaching score reading for a reasonably sized group.

I ran this course at Crayford Manor (Bexley College) October-December 2006 and drew on it for the Music In Time course at Morley College in 2008 where I made extensive use of the scores.


Attached is the spreadsheet I created for this course.

Beethoven String Quartets