If we consider the number of instruments that gave the string quartet its name, we might, perhaps, ask ourselves:  what might have motivated musicians and composers to select this particular number of instruments for this new addition to the various kinds of chamber music compositions? An interesting radio program on the history of the string quartet that was broadcast in my 'home town' Munich by the Bavarian Radio program Bayern IV, on September 23, 2000, at 3 p.m., the contents of which I became aware of, entertained its listeners with several analogies:  the narrator pointed out the symbolic character of the number four in nature, such as in the four elements (air, earth, fire and water), or the four human tempers (of the choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic and sanguine types), to the four directions and many other 'groups of four' in nature, but also to the symbolism of this number in music tradition such as the four human voice ranges of soprano, alto, tenor and bass 

These interesting introductory radio program remarks provided some food for thought with respect to this basic question.  However, anyone who is really interested in the early beginnings and the development of the string quartet will have more questions than this one!  I hope that this brief overview will answer some of these and open the door for us to the topic of the creation histories of all of Beethoven's string quartets.  .

First Traces

Let me openly share with you on how I went about finding those first traces:  

With respect to this, I had two initial trains of thought:  While Haydn is certainly considered  the composer who contributed the most to the actual development of the classical string quartet from the middle of the 18th century on, this compositional category could also not have 'fallen from the sky'.  How far back in time would I be able to trace its development?  

Therefore, I would be well-advised to armor myself with as much general and Haydn-specific information as possible.  I did so by selecting the overview of the string quartet in vol. 18 of Grove's Dictionary of Music in its 1980 edition, but also other general material listed below, and at least two Haydn biographies (also as listed below).  While Grove places the early beginnings of the development of the string quartet into the early 18th century, it was in Geiringer's Haydn biography that I found a different presentation.  In his biography, Karl Geiringer points out that: 

"The author has attempted to prove (10) that the origin of the string quartet is to be found in the four-part instrumental compositions by Austrian and German composers of the early seventeenth century, such as works by Peuerl, Posch, Schein, Hausmann, Franck, and Staden" (Geiringer: 229).

Where those German and Austrian composers and musicians of the early 17th century took their inspiration from can not be gleaned from Geiringer's remarks and would require further investigation.  I am also not sure what Grove's reasons for not entertaining this possibility are.  Grove could have either mentioned and rejected it on the basis of later findings, let it stand as a possibility that would warrant further investigation or confirmed it.  While we can not take this possibility as a certainty on the basis of one writer's discussion of it, we can also consider the cultural and economic situation of central Europe during the late 16th and early 17th centuries and find that due to the former lively economic exchange between Italy and Germany in the Middle Ages that was gradually losing its importance just about at that time, the new ideas and concept in music that were mainly developed in Italy found their way across the Alps to provide many a fruitful stimulation to musical life in Southern Germany (see, for example, Orlando di Lasso's work in Munich).  Thus it does not seem entirely unlikely that such stimulation might also have led to this early development of the forerunner of the string quartet.  As shall be seen shortly, this development found an abrupt halt around 1620.  The outbreak of the 30-Year-War might not have been the least reason for this halt. 

Geiringer explains that these compositions had been explicitly written for string instruments, that the thematic material was evenly spread between the four instruments and that it was based on simple thematic material of  folk song character.  However, around 1620, this new form was changed into a trio sonata due to the degeneration of the tenor voice that had been played by the viola.  This trio sonata was then executed by two violins and a figured bass, played by a violoncello and a keyboard instrument that improvised chords to fill the gap between the string instruments and the bass.  As Geiringer further points out, this trio sonata could be considered a keyboard instrument quartet.

The String Quartet in the First Half of the 18th Century (up to 1740)

For nearly a century, this trio sonata has held its position as the main form of chamber music compositions, for which all great masters of the Baroque period such as Corelli, Purcell, Handel and Bach had written works. In the beginning of the 18th century, it was slowly moved into the background due to the development of string quartet-like compositional form in Italy, France and Northern Germany.  

Between 1715 and 1725, in Italy, Antonio Scarlatti developed his sonate a quattro in which he, according to Grove, achieved a good balance between the four string instruments, and Geiringer describes them as real string quartets in which the keyboard had been replaced by the viola.  Galuppi is also reported by Grove as having replaced the Continuo with the violoncello as bass instrument, around 1740.


Alessandro Scarlatti

In addition to Antonio Scarlatti, Grove also mentions G.B. Sammartini, Tartini and others as Italian pioneers, namely in connection with the development of string quartet compositions  out of the Italian sinfonia and out of the sonata a chiesa.  In Samartini's string quartets, so Grove, the first violin was dominant.  These quartets were important for the development of the string quartet due to their elegant, almost classical melodic style and should later exert some influence on the young Mozart. 


G.B. Sammartini

In France, string quartet-like compositional forms developed further, as well, namely in the sonates en quator (using 3  violins and a basse continue), but also inairs, opera melodies, ouvertures and in the  ouverture reduite en quator, were, however, still closely tied to the previous Baroque style.

In North Germany, a similar development took place with the sonate a quattro by Telemann, J. G. Graun und Fasch.  However, also these works were still very much tied to the Baroque style.

The Transitional Period of 1740 to 1755


Luigi Boccherini

Although the development of string quartet-like compositions in France was mainly driven by the contributions of the Italian emigrants Boccherini and Gambini into the direction of the the actual classical string quartet, the classical string quartet received its main developmental impetus in Southern Germany, Austria and Bohemia, with the quartet symphonies of the Mannheim School (with works by J.W.A. Stamitz, F.X. Richter, Holzbauer, Filz, C. Cannabich and Eichner), and with the Divertimenti of mor popular character (through composers such as Asplmayr, Camerloher, Starzer, Gassmann and Franz Joseph Haydn.  In his interesting article on Beethoven's Op. 18, Martin Hufner  (nmz, 1977, taken from its Internet version) reports that Haydn's works, in contrast to those of Boccherini in France, saw a breakthrough and that not in the least due to the development of the bourgeois music culture in Central Europe, particularly in Vienna.

The String Quartet during the 2nd Half of the 18th Century

An early example of this newly-developing musical culture in Austro-Hungary might also have been Haydn's stay at Weinzierl at the Danube (not far from Melk) in the years 1755 and 1756, on the invitation of Baron von Fürnberg, thereby having saved him from his drudgery in the service of the singer Porpora.  At Weinzierl, the 23-year-old Haydn, whose career was still in its very early stages, found himself in the musical company of Fürnberg's stewart, the village priest and a musician by the name of Albrechtsberger (who, by the Haydn biographer Rosemary Hughes, is considered as possibly having been Beethoven's later teacher Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, and wno, by the authors of the Bayern IV radio program, was described as Anton Albrechtsberger, very likely the brother of Johann Georg Albrechtsberger).  In this ad-hoc-string quartet ensemble, the stewart and the village priest played the violins, Haydn the viola and Albrechtsberger the violoncello, and it must have been this ensemble for which Haydn, due to the lack of other available material, wrote his first string quartets Op. 1, nos. 1 - 6. 


Joseph Haydn
the 1760's
in his uniform as court musician
of Prince Esterhazy

With respect to the content of these, but also with respect to his further early string quartets of the years up to 1759, namely op. 2, nos. 1 - 6, Hufner mentions that it mainly consisted of playful, entertaining elements.  To this, Geiringer notes that the various movements were arranged very symmetrically and that their content was simple and cheerful, with a predilection for motives from Austrian folk songs.  The only exception to this, so Geiringer, was the Adagio of op. 2, no. 4, with its intense and passionate character that was reminiscent of the north-German art of C.P.E. Bach  (Geiringer: 232-233).

This remark would accord some credibility to Haydn's later remark that was mentioned in the Bayern IV radio program of September 23, 2000, namely that he did not really consider himself as the "father" of the classical string quartet, but rather that his serious endeavors in this area were based on the influence on him by C.P.E. Bach.


C.P.E. Bach, middle
n conversation with the Hamburg
Pastor Christoph Christian Sturm, right

Although 1756 marks the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozarts, we have to defer our possible two-tiered observation of the development of the string quartet by Haydn and Mozart for a little while, yet, since Mozart would only come to know the warm sound of the by him so much-loved "butter violin" during the next couple of years in order to, perhaps through its sound but perhaps also due to his father Leopold's great knowledge of this instrument (who also published his "Violinschule" during this time), develop his great sensitivity for string instruments.


Leopold Mozart on the
Title Page of his "Violinschule"

Let us therefore return to the composer who refused to be called the "father of the classical string quartet", Joseph Haydnehren wir hier daher zum Streichquartettvaterschaftsverweigerer Haydn.  At the latest since his marriage to his "consolation prize"  Anna Maria Keller (her younger sister who he actually loved became a nun) in 1761, the now 28-year-old became acquainted with the serious drudgery of home life, while, contrary to it, his nearly thirty fruitful creative years in the service of Prince Esterhazy provided him with the tranquility he was lacking at home.  If we were still in a position to consider the six string quartets that have become known as Haydn's Op. 3 (Hob III, 13 - 18), then we would have to follow the opinion of traditional Haydn research that maintained that they had been written around this time. While these works have been entered by the Haydn pupil Ignaz Pleyel into his edition of Haydn's works in 1802 (here, I ask myself the question as to whether one could earnestly imagine Beethoven in the role of a caretaker of Haydn's works) after Haydn had approved of it, and while they were also entered into the Haydn-Elssler catalogue in 1805, there have always been certain doubts as to their authenticity, mainly due to the fact that there did not exist any early sketches to them and due to the fact that they were only published as late as in 1777 (in Paris).  Even Geiringer who did not want to yield to those doubts, yet, refers to an article by  L. Sonfai in Haydn Emlekere. Zenetudomanyi Tanul manyok, VIII (Budapest, 1960).  As counter-argument he refers to Haydn's approval of these works being added into Pleyel's edition.  However, when we, as Beethoven friends, call to our minds two events in the difficult relationship between Haydn and Beethoven,  namely the awkward situation in which Beethoven had submitted to Haydn some of his works and which the latter had confidently sent to Bonn only to be advised by the Elector that these works had already been written by Beethoven during his last years in Bonn, we will have to, as generous observers of this course of events, consider that first of all, Beethoven did not provide Haydn with detailed information with respect to them and that Haydn was certainly too busy to enquire further into their precise details, and if we also consider Haydn's less than strict behavior towards Beethoven as his teacher in counterpoint studies, and when we consider Haydn's active creative life at that time we will come to realize that he was simply too busy with his second career as a freelance artist (during the years of 1790 until his illness in 1803,) who had won high acclaim in England during his two journeys there  and who did not let this momentum falter in his creating even more important work after that, in order for him to pay attention to things he might have held a marginal interest in such as doubting his memory with respect to his earlier works (as in the case of 'his' Op. 3) or to his well-intentioned, yet also tiring duties as Beethoven's 'strict' teacher and detail-oriented presenter of his pupil's 'latest' works.

Who, it not Haydn, was the composer of those six string quartets from the second movement of the fifth of which you can here hear the famous Andante Cantabile as midi file? With respect to this, I quote Rosemarie Hughes:

"Now it has been convincingly argued that their composer was not Haydn at all but a Benedictine monk from Amorbach in the Odenwald, Father Romanus Hofstetter" (Hughes: 154).

Even the Austrian Tourism Web Site (http://austria- tourism.at/personen/haydn/11hay.html, cited on September 24, 2000) reports with respec to this that:

"Seine Quartette wurden in Österreich schnell verbreitet, schon wenige Jahre nach ihrer Entstehung kursierten ihre Abschriften in österreichischen Klöstern.  So nimmt nicht wunder, daß ein Mönch aus Ambrach namens Roman Hofstetter seine nach Haydn'schem Vorbild komponierten Quartette als dessen "Opus 3" veröffentlichen ließ..." (Mention is made here of the fact that Haydn's quartets became very popular and that copies of them circulated in Austrian abbeys and that it should therefore not be surprising that a monk by the name of Roman Hofstetter from Ambrach composed quartets in Haydn's style and submitted them for publication as Haydn's Opus 3.)

With respect to the popularity of Haydn's early string quartets we can read in Hughes that five quartets of his Op. 5, together with a cassation, wer published in Paris as Symphonies ou Quators dialogues, in 1764 and that his six string quartets, Op. 9, were published in 1769.

While, under these circumstances, it is entirely up to you as to whether you consider these above-noted research results more important than the "Haydenesque" work by Hofstetter, we still have the choice of enjoying these quartets from the "galant period"  that have at least been influenced by Haydn.  

The next series of string quartets that were undoubtedly written by Haydn take us to the end of the 1760's, namely Op. 9, 1 - 6 (Hob III: 19 - 24), which were written from 1769 to 1770 and also published at that time (according to Hughes already in 1769). According to Grove, Haydn later considered these six quartets that now consisted of four movements each as his first real string quartets, with respect to which mention is made of the harmonious texture of all four voices and the now very distinct discourse between theme and motive, which is largely confirmed by Geiringer who points out that the development now played a greater role and that, due to this, the choice of themes was more subtle and open for more development and that more intensity of feeling was expressed.  Haydn is also reported as having accorded the violin part more brilliance (Geiringer: 250 - 251).  Although, as Grove points out, during this decade,  the works of other central European composers, such as those of Richter, Starzer, Holzbauer and F.X. Dusek, showed similar tendencies, they did not reach the range of expression in Haydn's works from 1769/70.

As Grove report, during the early 1770's, the further development of the string quartets was dominated by two major trends, namely by the concerto-like elements in the richly ornamented slow movements, and by the inclusion of fugal elements, such as, for example, in Moon's quartets (that had borrowed this development from the polyphonic second movement of the sonata da chiesa), but also in the works of Kraus, Albrechtsberger (with his six quators en fugue), Michael Haydn, Wagenseil and others, such as, for example, Leopold Gassmann's quartetti (the third movement of which showed fugal element). In Haydn's Op. 17 (Hob III: 25 - 30) from 1771, Geiringer sees again a close musical relationship to C.P.E. Bach in his obvious striving to give his quartets more solidity and concentration, and this striving is even stronger in his following quartet, Op. 20, the so-called Sun Quartet of 1772  (Geiringer: 277 - 27), while Grove points out Haydn's apparently very conscious application of the fugue in this work that are described as having helped him in developing those characteristics of the string quartet that would ultimately become the elements that would make up the string quartet as such, namely the freedom of the bass voice with respect to the melodic development and counterpoint, but also the further development of the idea that the string quartet should not yield to the needs of the galant era (of the rococo).



Mozart in Verona, January 1770,
at the age of 14 years
Oil Painting by Saverio dalla Rosa

Precisely at this juncture begins our at least two-tiered observation of the further development of the string quartet up to Beethoven, since the seventeen-year-old Mozart who spent the greater part of the years 1769 to 1773 with his travels to Italy in the company of his father Leopold.. On the last of these journeys, from October 24, 1772 to March 13, 1773, after he had already tried his hand at his three-movement  divertimenti K136 - 138 (which, according to Greither, should really only be considered "string overtures" in the Italian style), in the winter of 1772 to 1773, he wrote his so-called Milan String Quartets K155-160 as well as K80, which he begun in Bozen but on which he mainly worked in Milan. In these works, as Greither points out, Mozart took an important step in the direction of the actual string quartet, in spite of the still prevalent symphonic and orchestral characteristics, namely through the use of two violins, one viola and one violoncello as opposed to violins, cello and bass and through the loosening up of individual movements (Greither, Mozart: 24, 116), and according to Grove, he was supposed to have been influenced by G.B. Sammartini in his writing of K155-160.   The immediately following Viennese Quartets that he wrote during his stay in Vienna from July 14 to September 26, 1773 that, according to Greither, were again  "ein gutes Stck weiterenwickelt" (Greither: 117, meaning developed further a great deal), were, according to Greither and Grove already written under the influence of Haydn's quartets, Op. 17 and Op. 20, show, however, as Grove points out, also the influence of "Ordonez and much lesser figures" (Grove 18: 270).


Listing of K156 in the Köchel Catalogue
See "Sources")

Nine years of intensive opera writing in the service of Prince Esterhazy that were also crowned by the visit of a very satisfied Empress Marie Therese of Austria (the way she used to express it was "Wenn ich eine gute Oper hören will, gehe ich nach Esterhaza"--"When I want to hear a good opera, I visit Esterhaza) lie between Hayd'ns writing of the Sun Quartet Op. 20 and his writing of the next set of string quartets from the year 1781 in which Grand Duke Paul of Russia visited Vienna and in which Haydn met Clementi and formed a friendship with him and in which he then wrote his string quartets Op. 33 Hob. II 37-42, which he, in his own words, wrote "in a new and special way" (Grove: 278) and which he dedicated to the Grand Duke of Russia.  Due to this, they became known as the "Russian Quartets".  Let us see what Grove has to say to the beginning of the first movement:

"The opening of the development section of the first movement of op. 33 no 2 is a model of lucid thinking in four parts of a kind perhaps only to be realized after the fugal experiment of op. 20" (Grove 18: 279).


The beginning of the "Allegro Moderato", Op. 33, No. 2

The difference between Hofstetter's Haydnesque "Op. 3" and this work will also become apparent to us lay listeners.  Geiringer points out that, in these works, the thematic development became the main stylistic element and was carried out with consequent logic.  Further, the reports that:

"The synthesis of the homphonic rococo style with the contrapuntal idiom noticeable in the form of these quartets also may be discerned in their contents. Without avoiding the earlier grace and liveliness, they reveal greater depth of feeling. The last traces of galant superficiality have disappeared, and the music brethes quiet serenity and classical nobility" (Geiringer: 309).

Who will be surprised that Mozart who formed a friendship with Haydn in Vienna in 1781, also found himself inspired by these string quartets and, from 1782 to 1785, wrote his first set of string quartets (K387, 421/417b, 428/421b, 458, 464 and 465)  that were inspired by his quartets Op. 33,  but also a match for them. Rosemarie Hughes' Haydn biography notes for the year 1784, that Haydn and Mozart played chamber music together with Dittersdorf and Wahnal at the residence of Stephen Storace, thus one year before Mozart completed his set of string quartets mentioned above.  Wolfgang Hildesheimer has this to say with respect to them in his Mozart biography:

"Mozart probably respected no other contemporary and certainly no figure of the past as much as he did Haydn; and it is remarkable that the human relationship, however close it may have been, had its source in artistic admiration. Thus, Mozart made him what was tantamount to an offering of six of his important quartets..." (Hildesheimer: 296).

Let us take a look at copies of the original documents of the title page of the first edition of these works and of Mozart's dedication in Italian:


Title Page of the String Quartets, published by  Artaria in 1785
and  dedicated to Joseph Haydn


Dedication by Mozart to Haydn, in Italian

This dedication is quoted here as follows:

"To my dear friend Haydn:

A father, having resolved to send his sons into the great world, finds it advisable to entrust them to the protection and guidance of a highly celebrated man, the more so since this man, by a stroke of luck, is his best friend. - Here, then, celebrated man and my dearest friend, are my six sons. - Truly, they are the fruit of a long and laborious effort, but the hope, strengthened by several of my friends, that this effort would, at least in some small measure, be rewarded, encourages and comforts me that one day, these children may be a source of consolation to me. - You yourself, dearest friend, during your last sojourn in this capital, expressed to me your satisfaction with these works. - This, your approval, encourages me more than anything else, and thus I entrust them to your care, and hope that they are not wholly unworthy of your favour. - Do but receive them kindly, and be their father, guide and friend! From this moment I cede to you all my rights over them: I pray you to be indulgent to their mistakes, which a father's partial eye may have overlooked, and despite this, to cloak them in the mantle of your generosity which they value so highly. From the bottom of my heart I am, dearest friend,

your most sincere friend,
W.A. Mozart

Vienna, 1ast September, 1785" (Anderson: 891 - 892)

In his dedication, Mozart mentions Haydn's last visit to Vienna.  It took place in winter, 1785, when Leopold Mozart visited his son Wolfgang.  His first letter to his daughter Maria Anna  ("Nannerl") of February 16 has the following to report:

"We arrived at the Schulerstrasse No. 846, first floor, at one o'clock on Friday. That your brother has very fine quarters with all the necessary furniture you may gather from the fact that his rent is 460 gulden. On the same evening we drove to his first subscription concert, at which a great many members of the aristocracy were present. Each person pays a souverain d'or or three ducates for these Lenten concerts. Your brother is giving them at the Mehlgrube and only pays half a souverain d'or each time for the hall. The concert was magnificent and the orchestra played spendidly. In addition to the symphonies a female singer of the Italian theatre sang two arias. Then we had a new and very fine concerto by Wolfgang, which the copyist was still copying when we arrived, and the rondo of which your brother did not even have time to play through, as he had to supervise the copying. You can well imagine that I met many acquaintances there who all came up to speak to me. I was also introduced to several other people.

On Saturday evening Herr Joseph Haydn and the two Barons Tinti came to see us and the new quartets were performed, or rather, the three new ones which Wolfgang has added to the other three which we have already. The new ones are somewhat easier, but at the same time excellent compositions. Haydn said to me: 'Before God and as an honest man I tell you that your son is the greatest composer known to me either in person or by name. He has taste and, what is more, the most profound knowledge of composition'.. . .

Your brother, your sister-in-law, Marchand and I kiss you millions of times and I am your faithful father

Mozart" (Anderson: 885 - 887). 

Still in the same year, as Hughes reports, Haydn wrote a further string quartet, Op. 42 (Hughes: 222). With respect to it, Geiringer comments as follows:

"The next quartet, Op. 42 (Hob III:43) is a sort of foreign body within the whole set of string quartets. The very terse construction of its four movements induced Pohl and Sandberger to classify this composition as one of Haydn's earlier works. Some details, however, such as the dramatic development of the first and last movements, and the use of contrapuntal devices in the finale prove Op. 42 to be the product of a later period. Additional evidence is provided by the autograph in the West-German Library, Marburg, which bears the date 1785. The work must certainly be considered a composition of Haydn's maturity which--for unknown reasons--was conceived in a particularly unassuming manner" (Geiringer:310).

Here, it is perhaps helpful to take a look at the further development of the string quartet in France during the second half of the 18th century.  Two trends emerged there, namely on the one hand, the development of the quator brillant, in which the first violin almost appeared as a solo instrument that was accompanied by the second violin, the viola and the violoncello. Cambini, Dalayrac, Davaux, Fodor, Gossec and Viotti wrote works in this style.  On the other hand, in the Paris of the 1770's,  the quator concertant emerged and was supplied with many compositions by Cambini and Boccherini. According to Grove, Boccherini completely disregarded the further development of the string quartet by Haydn in this, while Haydn's quartets that were published in Paris during this time were also presented as  quator concertant.  

With respect to Mozart's further string quartets, Greither reports that he wrote four more of them after the set that was completed in 1785, namely K499 as a single work in August, 1786, and the three string quartets dedicated to King Frederick William II. of Prussia, namely K575 in D in 1785, and K589 and 590 in 1790.

With respect to K499, Hans Renner notes in  Reclams Kammermusikführer:

"Die Nähe des "Figaro" ist zu spüren in der federnden Eleganz dieser phantasievollen Spielmsuik. Mozart gelang hier so etwas wie ein Divertimento im Quartettstil" (Renner: 268; Renner expresses here that one can feel the connection of this work with "Figaro" in its playful elegance.and that Mozart was able to produce a divertimento in quartet style with it).

Mozart's journey to Berlin in the year 1789 might have been the outer occasion of the the dedication of his last three string quartets to the cello-loving and playing King Frederick William II. of Prussia and they might also have provided him with an opportunity to feature the cello as solo instrument here and there.  Greither notes with respect to them that they "die bei den Haydn gewidmeten Quartetten stark verwendete thematische Arbeit" (meaning that the intensive thematic work prevalent in his quartets dedicated to Haydn) was not as apparent in thse quartets and that "alles fließt freier, improvisierter (oder man merkt ihm die Arbeit weniger an" (meaning that everything flowed more freely and appeared more improvised, or that one did not notice any effort in them, anymore) (Greither: 118 - 119), while Grove notes with respect to them that Mozart was also able to combine elements of the quator brillant  and of the quator concertant  (Grove: 280).

These last string quartets of Mozart that were dedicated to the cello friend, King Frederick William II. of Prussia, offer an excellent point of departure to our discussion of Haydn's string quartets, Op. 50 that were dedicated to the same monarch, in 1787 and that were published by Artaria in Vienna.  However, these works were already written during the period of 1784 to 1787.  As Renner points out, these are formally not very different from Haydn's "Russian" quartets Op. 33, that they, however, were using a smoother musical language (Renner: 206). Geiringer points out with respect to them that "the thematic elaboration employed in Op. 33 is continued" (Geiringer: 310;) Geiringer further points out that:

"He was eager to concentrate his compositions not only by using thematic elaboration, but also by letting a whole movement unfold from a single germ" (Geiringer: 311)

Alaso the string quartets Op. 54 and 55 that were published in 1789 show, according to Geiringer, the same tendency (Geiringer: 312). Geiringer assumes that these and the following six string quartets, Op. 64, from 1790 were dedicated to Johann Tost gewidmet and points out that the boldness and variety expressed in them showed Haydn at the very peak of his creativity in this compositional genre.

After his arrival in Vienna in November 1791, Beethoven might also have had an opportunity to observe Haydn's work on his next quartet series, Op. 71 and 74 which Haydn dedicated to Count Appnyi.  With respect to these, Renner notes:

"Die je drei Quartette der Werkgruppen 71 und 74 sind dem ungarischen Grafen Apponyi gewidmet. Sie entstanden bis 1793, also zur Zeit von Haydns Londoner Reisen. Die meisen Londoner Sinfonien lagen damals bereits vor. Sie hatten Haydn Triumphe ohnegleichen eingebracht. Das steigerte sein Selbstbewußtsein. Man spürt es an diesen Quartetten. Ein Zug ins Grandseigneurhafte ist ihnen zu eigen. Die Themen haben bisweilen sinfonischen Zuschnitt, das Satzbild wirkt zumeist einfach. Al-fresco-Wirkungen ergeben sich" (Renner: 221; Renner expresses here that these quartets were dedicated to Count Apponyi and that they were completed by 1793, thus at the time of Haydn's travels to England, that most of his London Symphonies had already been written by that time and brought him great success and that this might have increased his self-confidence.  This, so Renner, can be heard in these quartets that have somewhat of an air of the 'grandseigneur' style, that some of the themes have symphonic character and that the overall impression is mostly simple, creating al-fresco-effects).

Whether these quartets were written in 1793 or, as Renner points out, completed by 1793, Geiringer notes with respect to them that Haydn wrote them at a time in which he was very interested in orchestral composition and that "they accordingly display a certain symphonic character" (Geiringer: 345). Particularly noteworthy in these works are, as Geiringer points out, the introductions to each first movement, a habit that Haydn also displayed in the writing of his symphonies.

What might be of interest to us here is that these works were completed during Beethoven's first year in Vienna, in which his teacher Haydn found himself in the period between his first and second journey to England, must have been very busy with his preparations for his second journey and, due to this, might not have been an as attentive and an as strict teacher of counterpoint as Beethoven might have hoped for, a fact that we, with all its accompanying details such as Beethoven's secret help from Schenk, are already familiar with from our Biographical Pages.  In conclusion, it can also be noted here that, with the beginning of Haydn's 1794 journey to England, his role as Beethoven's teacher ended and that he was, for a stretch of time, also away from Vienna and did not exert a direct influence on Beethoven.

This juncture provides us with an appropriate opportunity to conclude this little pre-history of the development of the string quartet up to Beethoven, so that we can then focus our attention on the history of the creation of Beethoven's first set of own string quartets, Op. 18, 1 - 6.



Chronologisch-thematisches Verzeichnis sämtlicher Tonwerke Wolfgang Amade Mozarts. Von Dr. Ludwig Ritter von Köchel. Dritte Auflage bearbeitet von Alfred Einstein. Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1947: Verlag von J.W. Edwards.

Geiringer, Karl, Haydn. A Creative Life in Music. 2nd Ed. London, 1964: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

Greither, Aloys, Mozart (Ro-Ro-Ro Monographien). Reinbek bei Hamburg, 1952: Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH.

Hildesheimer, Wolfgang, Mozart. Translated from the German by Marion Faber. New York, 1991: The Noonday Press.

Hughes, Rosemary. Haydn. The Master Musicians Series. London, 1974: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd.

Reclams Kammermusikführer von Hans Renner. Vierte Auflage. Stuttgart, 1959 und 1962: Philipp Reclam Jun.

The Letters of Mozart and His Family. Chronologically arranged, translated and edited with an Introduction, Notes and Indexes by Emily Anderson. Volume II. New York, 1966: St. Martin's Press.

The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Edited by Stanley Sadie. Vol. 18. London, 1980: Macmillan Publishers.

"Zur Geschichte des Streichquartetts". Radio Show of the Bayerische Rundfunk of September 23, September 2000, at 15:00 hours.. (Content provided by Helmut Walther, Nürnberg).