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Beethoven in 1800


We might recall the section of our Biographical Pages entitled Success as a Young Composer that describe Beethoven's years in Vienna from March 1795 up to the beginning of his serious problems with his hearing loss in the years 1801 - 1802. 

In it, we became acquainted with many of Beethoven's activities of the year 195.  What we, however, have not discussed, yet, is Franz Gerhard Wegeler's report in the Biographische Notizen which we quote here from Thayer:

"'Here, [at Prince Lichnowsky's] in 1795 Count Apponyi asked Beethoven to compose a quartet for him for a given compensation, Beethoven not yet having written a piece in this genre' which led to no instant result" (1), (Thayer: 262).

As we have just discussed at the end of our brief overview of the history of the string quartet up to Beethoven, it was Count Apponyi to whom Haydn had dedicated his string quartets, Op. 71 and 72 in 1793, and in doing so, we might also have been able to discern the beginning of the connection between Apponyi, Haydn and his student Beethoven.

A possible answer to the question as to whether Beethoven did not follow up on Apponyi's order of the composition of a string quartet at that time might be derived by looking at his systematic approach to his contrapuntal studies during his Vienna study years, during the process of which he did not allow himself to turn to new compositions before he had mastered a certain concept, which was also the main cause for the embarrassing situation that he could not provide his teacher Haydn with many new compositions for the latter to send to Bonn as proof of his progress.  In turn, Beethoven's decline of Apponyi's offer of a string quartet commission in 1795 seems to confirm his seriousness that he had already displayed during his study years. 

Since Beethoven, therefore, did not immediately turn to the composition of string quartets, but rather busied himself with his endeavors in other categories of chamber music, we might perhaps wish to take a look at all of his major chamber music compositions which he wrote--next to other instruments--also for strings.  Perhaps this will lead us to raising relevant questions or to arrive at appropriate points of departure with respect to his string quartet compositions:

While Grove lists Beethoven's Piano Trios, Op. 1 (in E-flat Major and c minor) as having been composed in the years 1794 - 1795, (with the exception of No. 1 that, according to Grove,  might perhaps already have been written before 1794), Thayer lists as the time of their composition the years 1793 - 1794. As we know, Beethoven dedicated these Trios that were published by Artaria to Prince Lichnowsky. We also already know that Haydn's roused Beethoven's anger by advising him not not submitting No. 3 for publication, yet.  The year 1795 also saw the writing of the E-flat Major Sextet, Op. 81b for 2 horns, 2 violins, viola, and Violoncello (it was published in Bonn in 1810).

The year 1796 that saw3 Beethoven's journey or journeys to Prague, Dresden and Berlin in the spring and summer and his fall journey to Pressburg and Pesth, also saw the writing of the two Cello Sonatas, Op. 5, which we already discussed in our creation history, of the Quintet for Strings, Op. 4 (a re-writing of the Octet for wind instruments, Op. 103), of the F-Major-Variation's on Mozart's "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen" (from the Magic Flute), Op. 66, for Piano and Violoncello (published in Vienna in 1798, and perhaps in the winter of 1796/ 1797 the completion of the E-flat-Major Duet, WoO for Viola and Violoncello, which has been described by Beethoven as having been written for "mit zwei obligaten Augengläsern", which points towards Beethoven's having played the Viola part, while Baron Zmeskall played the Cello part, and to whom he also dedicated the work.

The years 1797 - 1798 saw the writing of the D Major Serenade for Violin, Viola and Violoncello, Op. 8, of the Trios for Strings in G Major, D Major and c minor (dedicated to Count Johann Georg Browne and published in Vienna in 1798), and of the Trio for Piano, Clarinet/Violin and Violoncello (dedicated to Countess von Thun  and published in Vienna in 1798).

That Beethoven also had an opportunity to gain fresh impression for the composition of these works while observing the playing of string players that were literally very close to him, is indicated by Thayer's report in his chapter, Beethoven's Friends and Fellow Musicians, from which we want to quote a relevant passage with respect to the development of the so-called "Schuppanzigh Quartet":

"They were during these years but laying the foundation for future excellence and celebrity as performers of Mozart's, Haydn's, Förster's and Beethoven's quartets. Schuppanzigh, first violin, and Weiss, viola, alone appear to have been constantly associated in their quartet-playing. Kraft, violoncellist, was often absent, when his father, or Zmeskall, or some other, supplied his place; and as the second violin was often taken by the master of the house, when they were engaged for private concerts, Sina was, naturally absent. Still, from 1794 to 1799, the four appear to have practised much and very regularly together. They enjoyed an advantage known to no other quartet--that of playing the compositions of Haydn and Förster under the eyes of the composers, and being taught by them every effect that the music was intended to produce. Each of the performers, therefore, knowing precisely the intentions of the composer, acquired the difficult art of being independent and at the same time of being subordinate to the general effect. When Beethoven began to compose quartets he had, therefore, a set of performers schooled to perfection by his great predecessors, and who already had experience in his own music through his trios and sonatas" (Thayer: 228).

During these years, Beethoven also came into contact with other players of string instruments, such as, for example, in 1796 in Berlin with the cellist Duport (see our Creation History of Op. 5), with the already mentioned, proven friend, Baron Zmeskall, a passionate lay cellist, his violin playing friend, Carl Friedrich Amenda (1798 - 1799), a further lay violinist, Heinrich Eppinger, und in the winter/spring of 1798 also with the French violin virtuoso, Rodolphe Kreutzer, who arrived in Vienna as part of General Bernadotte's entourage.

Thus "all" that is left for us to do now is to discover how Beethoven was able to incorporate all of these influences into the writing of his first string quartets.

Creation History in Chronological Order

What is meant here by chronological is that we will not follow the creation of Op. 18, 1 - 6 in numerical order, but that we want to try to find out in what chronological order these works that have been grouped under this opus number, have been written.  (Here, we have to consider that no complete original manuscripts have been preserved).  In addition to this purely chronological pursuit of traces of Beethoven's early string quartet compositions, we might also wish to consider what important biographical events the creation, first performance and publication of these works is framed in by and can see that their creation lies precisely between the first traces of Beethoven's hearing loss (approximately between 1796 and 1798)  and his first own mention in writing of this serious problem to his friends Amenda and Wegeler, in the summer of 1801.  In our chronological journey, we will, therefore, also discuss this course of events as it became apparent in connection with the creation of these string quartets. 

With respect to the tracing of the chronological sequence of the composition of these works, Thayer offers us a good starting point:

"Czerny says in his notes for Jahn: 'Of the first six Violin Quartets that in D major, No. 3 in print, was the very first composed by Beethoven. On the advice of Schuppanzigh he called that in F major No. 1, although it was composed later.' Ries confirms this (Notizen, p. 103): 'Of his Violin Quartets, Op. 18, he composed that in D major first of all. That in F major, which now precedes it, was originally the third." It was, however, in reality the second, as the parts to Amenda show. To be sure, neither Czerny nor Ries spoke from personal observation at the time of composition; they must both have learned the facts from Beethoven himself, or, more probably, from dates on the original manuscripts" (Thayer: 261).

With respect to this, Hufner notes in his internet article that Op. 18, No. 3 in D major was written as the first work of this group during the period of Summer/Fall 1798 to January, 1799.  We shall return to Hufner's listing of the chronological order of the creation of these works in due course.

Perhaps we should now look for information on Op. 18, No. 1 in F Major which, according to Ferdinand Ries, was the 'third' quartet that was written. In connection with Beethoven's ten Variations on "La stessa, la stessissima" from Salieri's opera Falstaff that, accorind to Thayer, was announced as just having been published in the Wiener Zeitung of March 2, 1799, Thayer reports that among the sketches for this occasional work, there were also found some sketches  "for the first Quartet, Op. 18" (Thayer: 215).  If Thayer is referring here to Op. 1, No. 1, this would agree with Hufner's listing who reports that this work was written between February and April, 1799.

Both Czerny and Ries noted that Op. 18, No. 3, was written as the first quartet, while Op. 18, No. 1 was supposed to have been written as the third quartet.  Contrary to this, Hufner mentions Op. 18, No. 2 as the third string quartet and No. 2 in G Major as the third, that was written right after No. 3, namely from April to June, 1799.

Thayer summarizes the chronological sequence of the writing of these first three string quartets as follows:

"...the composition of the Quartets was begun in 1798, that in D, the third, being the first undertaken. This was followed by that in F and soon after, or simultaneously, work was begun on that in G, which was originally designed as the second; but, as that in F was completed earlier, this was designated as the second by Beethoven, and that in G became in point of time the third. The quartet in F was finished in its original shape by June 25, 1799, on which day he gave it to Amenda; he revised it later" (Thayer: 264).

On June 25, 1799 (2) Beethoven wrote the following dedicatory note for Carl Friedrich Amenda (3) on a copy of the quartet, namely at the beginning of the first violin part:

"Dear Amenda: Take this quartet as a small memorial of our friendship, and whenever you play it recall the days in which we passed together and the sincere affection felt for you then and which will always be felt by

your true friend

Ludwig van Beethoven" (Thayer: 224).

Carl Friedrich Amenda

Since we had an opportunity to become familiar with the nature of Beethoven's and Amenda's friendship in our appendix, we can, at least with respect to Beethoven's mentioning to Amenda of the beginning of his hearing loss, refer to his lines to him of June 1801.   The reason for this will become apparent from Beethoven's comments: 

"Wien, den 1. Juni [1801}

Mein lieber, mein guter Amenda, mein herzlicher Freund, mit inniger Rührung, mit gemischtem Schmerz und Vergnügen habe ich Deinen letzten Brief erhalten und gelesen. Womit soll ich Deine Treue, Deine Anhänglichkeit an mich vergleichen; o das ist recht schön, daß Du mir immer so gut geblieben, ja ich weiß Dich auch mir von allen bewährt und herauszuheben; Du bist kein Wiener Freund, nein Du bist einer von denen, wie sie mein vaterländischer Boden hervorzubringen pflegt. Wie oft wünsche ich Dich bei mir, denn Dein Beethoven lebt sehr unglücklich im Streit mit Natur und Schöpfer; schon mehrmals fluchte ich letzterem, dass er seine Geschöpfe dem kleinsten Zufall aussetzt, so dass oft die schönste Blüte dadurch zernichtet und zerknickt wird. Wisse, dass mir der edelste Teil, mein Gehör, sehr abgenommen hat; schon damals, als Du noch bei mir warst, fühlte ich davon Spuren, und ich verschwieg's, nun ist es immer ärger geworden. . . . " Schmidt, Beethoven=Briefe: 16; "My dear, good Amenda, my sincere friend, deeply moved and with a mixture of pain and plesure I have received and read your last letter.  With what can I compare your faithful friendship  and your devotion to me, yes, I know that I can count you among those who stand out among others and who have proven themselves.  You are not a Viennese friend, no you are one of those that the soil of my fatherland brings forth.  How often did I not wish that you were with me, since your Beethoven lives very unhappily in his fight with nature and creator; already several times, I have cursed the latter, that he subjects his creatures to the slightest coincidences, so that due to this, very often, the most beautiful blossom will be crushed and destroyed.  You must know that my noblest part, my hearing, has deteriorated greatly; already back then, when you were still with me, I I felt traces of it, and I kept silent about it, now it has gotten worse and worse . . .").

Therefore, already during the time of his first acquaintance and of his music-making with Amenda during the years 1798 and 1799, and therefore also during the time in which his first six string quartets were written in their original form, Beethoven had to struggle with the first signs of his hearing loss.  How this was affecting him, is described by him with these simple words in the Heiligenstadt Will:  "Aber bedenket nur, dass seit 6 Jahren ein heilloser Zustand mich befallen, durch unvernünftige Ärzte verschlimmert, von Jahr zu Jahr in der Hoffnung gebessert zu werden, betrogen . . . " (Schmidt, Beethoven=Briefe: 32; "Just consider that for six years, I have been plagued with an incurable disease, which was worsened by unreasonable physicians, betrayed year after year in the hope for improvement").  His initial hope for improvement might have been one of the reasons why Beethoven kept silent about his condition at that time.  It does not take an inordinate amount of imagination to put ourselves into his place: who of us has is either healthy enough to never have had to fight with a beginning illness in which he/she has clung to an initial hope for improvement, or, on the other hand, has known someone in his immediate environment who was struggling with such a situation?  In Beethoven's case we have to consider that he was also afraid of how this condition might affect his acitvities as a musician.  More can and should not be said on this topic at this time; however, it deserves our consideration in the overall course of events during these years.

Towards the end of June 1799, Beethoven had, according to Hufner's listing, already also written out copies of the first three quartets.  According to his report, these were followed by the A Major quartet, Op. 18, No. 5, which was to have been written from June to August, 1799, and in late summer and fall the c Minor quartet No. 4 as well as the B-flat Major quartet No. 6.

Probably in August, Beethoven wrote the following farewell words to Amenda before the latter's departure for his native Courland:

"Today I received an invitation to go to Mödling in the country; I have accepted it and leave for there this evening for a few days. It was all the more welcome since my heart already lacerated would have suffered all the more; although the main storm has been repulsed again, still I am not yet completely certain how my plan against it will be worked out. Yesterday I was offered a trip to Poland in the month of September, whereby the trip as well as the stay costs me nothing, and I can have a good time in Poland and also earn some money; I have accepted it.--Goodbye, dear A., and give me news soon of your stops on the way, and also how and when you arrive in your native land--Pleasant journey and do not forget

Your Bthvn" (Thayer: 225).

As Thayer reports, nothing came of this journey to Poland.  What musical activities and company Beethoven very likely had during the period of the winter season of 1799/1800, is his contact with the members of the later Schuppanzigh Quartet and with the Viennese composer Aloys Förster, of whom Thayer has the following to say:

" . . . Emanuel Aloys Förster, (born January 26, 1748, in Neurath, Upper Silesia, died November 12, 1823, in Vienna), a musician who was so highly esteemed by Beethoven that, on one occasion at least, he called him his "old master." The phrase can easily be interpreted to mean that Beethoven found instruction in Förster's chamber music which he heard at the soirees of Prince Lichnowsky and other art-patrons. Förster's compositions, not many of which have been preserved in print, are decidely Beethovenish in character. His eldest son, who in 1870 was still living in Trieste, remembered Beethoven perfectly well vom 1803 to 1813, and communicated to the author of this biography some reminiscences well worth preserving. . . . Förster's dwelling in all those years was a favorite resort of the principal composers and dilletanti. Thither came Beethoven; Zmeskall, "a very precise gentleman with abundant white hair"; SchuppNsigh, "a short plump man with a huge belly"; Weiss, tall and thin; [later] Linke, the lame violoncellist, Heinrich Eppinger, the Jewish violin dillettante, the youthful Mayseder, J.N. Hummel, and others. The regular periods of these quartet meetings were Sunday at noon, and the evening of Thursady; but Beethoven in those years often spent other evenings with Förster, "when the conversation usually turned upon musical theory and composition. . . . and it is no forced and unnatural inference, that he [Beethoven] had studied quartet composition with him, as he had counterpoint with Albrechtsberger, and operatic writing with Salieri" (Thayer: 261 - 262).

From Thayer's lines can be discerned that not only during the period of 1803 to 1813, but already earlier, Förster had exerted a not unimportant, instructive influence on Beethoven, particularly in chamber music composition.  Relevant "proof" of this will be provided here in due chronological course.

Before we investigate the further fate of Op. 18, we should, perhaps, also follow all relevant hints with respect to traces of any of its parts, whereby we will feature clearly discernable facts in our main texts and discussions with respect to existing sketches to them, in our appendix.

On page 215, thus in his chapter to the years 1798 to 1799, Thayer mentions that among Beethoven's sketches to Op. 18, No. 5, there were also found those to his Variations on "Kind, willst du ruhig schlafen?" from Winter's opera "Das unterbrochene Opferfest", the publication by Mollo and Co. in Vienna was announced in the December 21 edition of the  "Wiener Zeitung".

On page 216, Thayer refers to the so-called Grasnick Sketch Book, namely in connection with sketches to Op. 18 and sketches to a lied,  "Plaisir d'aimer", that was written in 1799.

Thayer also mentions Erich Hertzmann's studies of certain Beethoven sketches for his First Symphony, particularly his early sketches of its finale, to Hertzmann's mention of their thematic relationship to Beethoven's Piano Variations on "Une fievre brulante" and to the Coda and Variations of the Quartet Op. 18, No. 5

While we shall discuss (as already pointed out) Thayer's closer investigation into the chronological order of the composition of these string quartets by consulting existing sketch books  (4) in our appendix, here, we provide you with Thayer's brief summary of the chronological order of the writing of O. 18, Nos. 4, 5 and 6:

"He then wrote the one in A (now No. 5), intending it to be the fourth; in this he seems to have made use of a motif invented at an earlier period. The Quartets in B-flat and C minor followed, the latter being, perhaps, the last. The definitive elaboration of the Quartets lasted certainly until 1800, possibly until 1801" (Thayer: 264).

This "perhaps" leaves the door open for Hufner's listing of No. 4 as the fifth quartet that was written, before the B-flat Major quartet, No. 6.

Since the stage of "completion" that these six string quartets had reached at this point would, as Thayer already reports, not remain Beethoven's "last word" with respect to their final version(s), it is not easy to complete the creation history and begin the description of the further fate of these works at a certain point, so that we will also present the remainder of our investigation under this heading.

As already mentioned, it is very likely that Beethoven was in close contact with Aloys Förster during the winter of 1799/1800.  This also appears to be confirmed by Thayer's as well as Hufner's report (who relies on the research results of Sieghard Brandenburg) that Beethoven revised the F Major quartet No. 1 and also the G Major quartet Nr. 2 in the spring and summer of 1800 (Hufner, Internet Artikle, Thayer: 225, 262 and 281) which might perhaps only have made sense after serious discussions of this topic with Förster.

In his summary of the chronological history of these string quartets, Thayer also points out that the frist three quartets were in the hands of the Viennese publisher Mollo by the fall of 1800, which appears to be confirmed by Beethoven's letter to his friend Franz Anton Hofmeister who had just established himself as a music publisher in Leipzig:

"Pro primo you must know that I am very sorry that you, my dear brother in music, did not let me know something of this earlier so that I might have marketed by quartets with you, as well as many other pieces which I have sold" (Thayer: 260).

In his chapter of the year 1800, Thayer also mentions Prince Lichnowsky's gift to Beethoven of four string instruments and quotes the Viennese court orchestra violinist Alois Fuchs with respect to it (described by Fuchs on December 2, 1846):

Beethoven's Own String Instruments

"Ludwig van Beethoven owned a complete quartet of excellent Italian instruments given to him by his princely patron and friend Lichnowsky at the suggestion of the famous quartet-player Schuppanzigh. I am in a position to describe each of the instruments in detail:

1. A violin made by Joseph Guarnerius in Cremona in the year 1718 is now in the possession of Mr. Karl Holz, director of the Concerts spirituels in Vienna.

2. The second violin (which was offered for sale) was made by Nicholas Amati in the year 1667, and was in the pssession of Dr. Obermeyer, who died recently in Hütteldorf; it has been purchase by Mr. Huber.

3. The viola, made by Vincenzo Ruger in 1690, is also the property of Mr. Karl Holz.

4. The violoncello, an Andreas Guarnerius of the year 1712, is in the possession of Mr. P. Wertheimber of Vienna" (Thayer: 264 - 265).

Although Thayer contends that Beethoven must have received these instruments at least before 1812 and that the precise time at which Lichnowsky made this present to Beethoven is not known, Beethoven's mention of instruments given to him by Lichnowsky in the "Heiligenstadt Will" of 1802 (see our Biography Pages section might serve as a clue that he might already have received them before the fall of 1802.

As to whether Beethoven's string quartets, Op. 18, were already played on these instruments during a soiree at Count von Deym's Vienna residence that was held in honor of Archduchess Julia von Givane, a family friend, can therefore not be determined with certainty.  In her letter of December 10, 1800, to her sister Therese, Josephine von Brunsvik-Deym writes:

"We had music in honor of the archudchess. I had to play and at the same time I was responsible for all arrangements and above all the concern that everything went well. Our rooms were so beautiful that you would have been enchanted. All the doors were opened and everything lit up. I assure you it was a splendid sight! Beethoven played the sonata with violoncello, I played the last of the three sonatas [Op. 12, No. 3] with Schuppanzigh's accompaniment, who played dvinely like everybody else. Then Beethoven like a true angel let us hear his new still unpublished quartets [Op. 18] which are the most excellent of their kind. The renowned Kraft undertook the 'cello part, Schuppanzigh the first violin. Imagine what a pleasure it was! The archduchess was enchanted and everything came off wonderfully" (Thayer: 236 - 237)

Ignaz Schuppanzigh

In all likelihood, this might have been the first "public" performance of these works in a small circle that went beyond prior rehearsals among the musicians.  With respect to his friendship with Josephin von Brunsvik and her husband, Thayer notes in his chapter Beethoven 's Friends and Fellow Musicians:

"By 1800 the Count had gotten badly into debt, partially because he had counted upon, but had never received, a large dowry from the Brunsvik family. Legal wrangles threatened, and the mother, who was in Vienna for the birth of Josephine's first child, pressed her for a separation, realising too late that the marriage she had forced upon her daughter offered neither social nor financial advantages. Josephine, on the other hand, was a truly honorable woman; amid stormy scenes with her mother she steadfastly refused to dishonor her marriage vows.

Beethoven proved to be a loyal friend to the young countess in her unhappy circumstances. Therese writes: "The aristocracy turned its back upon him [Deym] because he had gone into business. He could not hunt up his former rich acquaiintances. Beethoven was the faithful visitor at the house of the young countess--he gave her lessons gratis and to be tolerated one had to be a Beethoven. The numerous relatives, the sisters of her father and their children, frequently visited their amiable niece. Tableaux were occasionally given; Deym, being himself an artist, was at home in such matters, they gave him plesure . . . . There were soirees. My brother came in vacation-time and made the acquaintance of Beethoven. The two musical geniuses became intimately associated with each other, and my brother never deserted his friend in his frequent financial troubles until his, alas! so early death.

From this it can be seen that Josephine must have derived real comfort from her friendship with the composer, and also that gradually her circle was widening . . . " (Thayer: 236;)

In addition to our being able to note that Beethoven proved himself as a loyal friend of this family, we might also ask ourselves if he did not also feel more comfortable in smaller circles during those years when we consider that he was avoiding society during this first period of his hearing loss (as we has stated in his letters of 1801 to Amenda and Wegeler and in his Heiligenstadt Will).  

This repeated mention of Beethoven's hearing loss difficulties also provides us with an opportunity to return to his letter of "June 1st", which  had always been considered as having been written in the year 1800, both its content with respect to Beethoven's loss of hearing as well as it later dating by Beethoven research would suggest that this letter was actually written in the summer of 1801.  In it, Beethoven also writes:

"Do not lend your quartet to anybody because I have greatly changed it, having just learned how to write quartets properly, as you will observe when you receive them" (Thayer: 282).

This finally confirms our previous hint at the fact of Beethoven's revision of his F Major quartet that he had sent to Amend on June 25, 1799.

With respect to the publication of the Quartets by Mollo in Vienna, Thayer writes:

"The Quartets then appeared in two sets from the press of Mollo. It is likely that the first three, at least, were in the hands of the publisher before the end of 1800, as is proved by the letter to Hoffmeister. The first three appeared in the summer of 1801 and were advertised as on sale by Nägeli in Zurich already in July; they were mentioned in the Allg. Musik. Zeitung on August 26, and in Spazier's Zeitung für die elegante Welt. In October of the same year the last three appeared and Mollo advertised them in the Wiener Zeitung of October 28. The Quartets are dedicated to Prince Lobkowitz" (Thayer: 264)

Thayer offers two interesting comments with which we would like to conclude our chronological overview

"After Beethoven had composed his well-known String Quartet in F major he played for his friend [Amenda] [on the pianoforte?] the glorious Adagio [D minor, 9/8 time] and asked him what thought had been awakened by it. "It pictured for me the parting of two lovers," was the answer. "Good!" remarked Beethoven, "I thought of the scene in the burial vault in Romeo and Juliet" (Thayer: 261)

"During a walk I mentioned to Beethoven two pure fifth progressions which sound striking and beautiful in his C minor Quartet (Op. 18). He did not know them and denied that they were fifths. It being his habit always to carry ruled paper with him, I asked him for a sheet and wrote down the passage in all four voices; seeing that I was right he said: 'Well, and who has forbidden them?' Not knowing how to take the question, I had him repeat it several times until I finally answered in amazement: 'But they are first principles!' The question was repeated again, whereupon I answered: 'Marpurg, Kirnberger, Fux, etc., etc. all theoreticians!'--'And I allow them thus!' was his answer" (Thayer: 367)

What could possibly be added to this spectrum of possibilities that you could not carefully consider by weighing all biographical and creation history facts in connection with your careful listening to these works, themselves, or which you can, alternately, read up in expert comments?


(1) With the exception of Hess, the A-flat Major Minuet in string quartet form that Beethoven had composed around 1800, and also in piano version; it might, however, not be considered a string quartet in the actual sense.

(2) Interestingly enough, after her marriage to Count Joseph von Deym, Josephine von Brunsvik, coming back from her native Martonvasar in Hungary, returned to Vienna only a few days later, on June 29, 1799, to live with her husband at his Vienna residence which was also his place of business, the Müllersche Kunstmusteum.  [During their visit to Vienna in May, 1799, the young Countesses Therese and Josephine von Brunsvik met Beethoven and with certainty Therese, if not also Josephine, received piano lessons from him for 16 days.]

(3) Thayer quotes the Amenda family memoirs with respect to Beethoven's and Amenda's meeting as follows:  "After the completion of his theological studies K.F. Amenda goes to Vienna, where he several times meets Beethoven at the table d'hote, attempts to enter into conversation with im, but without success, since Beeth. remains very reserve.  After some time Amenda, who meanwhile had become music-teacher at the home of Mozart's widow, receives an invitation from a friendly family and there plays first violin in a quartet.  While he was playing somebody turned the pages for him, and when he turned about at the finish he was frightened to see Beethoven, who had taken the trouble to do this and now withdrew with a bow.  The next day the extremely amiable host at the evening party appeared and cried out:  "What have you done?  You have captured Beethoven's hart!  B. requests that you rejoice him with your company."  A., much pleased, hurries to B., who at once asks him to play with him.  This is done and when, after several hours, A. takes his leave, B. accompanies him to his quarters, where there was music again.  As B. finally prepared to go he said to A.:  "I suppose you can accompany me."  This is done, and B. kept A. till evening and went with him to his home late at night.  From that time the mutual visits became more and more numerous and the two took walks together, so that the people in the streets when they saw only one of them in the street at once called out:  "Where is the other one?"  . . .  B. complained that he could not get along on the violin.  Asked by A. to try it, nevertheless, he played so fearfully that A. had to call out:  "Have mercy--quit!"  B. quit playing and the two laughed till they had to hold their sides.  ..." (Thayer: 223-224).

(4) In his discussion of the chronological sequence of Beethoven's writing of his six string quartets, Thayer first mentions Nottebohm and sketches to these works that are contained in the so-called Petter Collection that was apparently located in Vienna (at least at the time of Thayer's writing of his discussion), with sketches to the last movement of the G-Major String Quartet, No. 2 (of which Beethoven is reported as having later discarded one of these sketches), sketches to the last movement of the B-flat Major Quartet, No. 6 and of the third and last movement of the F-Major Quartet, No. 1, to which Thayer comments that  of these sketches, those to Op. 1, No. 1, were developed the furthers and that they were closely connected to the sketches of the B-Major Sonata, Op. 22 and to the G-Major Variations that Beethoven had begun while he had worked on the last movement of Op. 18, No. 2.  According to Thayer, Beethoven had simultaneously worked on the first movement of Op. 22 and on the Scherzo of the first Quartet, and while he worked on the last movement of the B-flat Major Quartet, he had begun to work on the Rondo of the already mentioned Sonata, and that all of these sketches date back to 1799 and 1800.  Thayer further points out that these were still completed before he hurriedly worked on the completion of his Horn Sonata that premiered on April 18, 1800 and also contends that one of his Variations of the A-Major Quartet (No. 5) was written much earlier, namely in 1794 or 1795, and that a small sketch to the first movement of the F-Major Quartet (No. 1) was found next to sketches for the Violin Sonata, O. 24, which doubtless belongs to the revised version of this work (Op. 18, No. 1).  . Thayer then discusses the so-called Grasnick Sketchbook (formerly in the possession of Grasnick in Berlin) which contains sketches to the D-Major Quartet, namely in its nearly final version with the exception of another theme for the last movement, followed by the sketches for a beginning in G Major that Beethoven had marked as "Quartet No. 2", which might represent the germ for a second quartet.  This is reported by Thayer as being followed by sketches to other works such  as to   "Der Kuss", for the "Opferlied", for the G Major-Rondo, Op. 51, Nr. 2, for a passage from Schiller's "Ode to Joy", for Gellert's "Meine Lebenszeit verstreicht", for a piano intermezoo, for the revised version of the B-flat Piano Concerto (that he had performed in Prague in 1798) and for various other lieder. Due to this, argues Thayer, these sketches would have to be dated back to the year 1798.  These sketches were followed by those to the Variations on  "La stessa, la stessissima", which were written and published at the beginning of 1799, followed by sketches for the first two movements of the F Major Quartet, No. 1, of which again the first movement was developed further and the second movement less.  Some sketches for a "third", not yet existing quartet, that were marked as such showed that at that time, a third quartet was no third quartet existed at that time, yet.  Therefore, the F Major Quartett was the second quartet and was planned in 1799.  Another sketch book contained, as Thayer points out, the continuation of the sketches to the F Major Quartet, namely for all movements, followed by a not yet worked-out sketch for a "third" quartet (which was not completed by that time yet, either), then sketches to two Goethe Lieder (one of it "Ich denke dein"), followed by sketches to movements of the G Major Quartet (No. 2), which would indicate that this quartet was written as the third one, of which, however, the intermezzo in the second movement was written later, further sketches to the A Major Quartet (No. 5), which was written as the fourth quartet.  According to Thayer, among these sketches were also found those for the Septet and the Variations on  "Kind, willst du ruhig schlafen?", which were published in December, 1799, and which, therefore, must have been written earlier.  Thayer contends that these sketches went back to the years 1798 and 1799; however, by that time, the quartets were not completed, yet.  In an un-used sketch for the Adagio of the F Major Quartet, Beethoven is reported as having added to it the words "les derniers soupirs", which appears to be confirmed by Amenda and which we discuss in our main text of this chronological overview.  The continuation of the G Major Quartet dates, according to Thayer, from 1800, while at least to the date of the publication of this standard biography, no sketches were found to the c Minor Quartet. (Thayer: 262-263).



HUFNER, Martin. Ludwig van Beethoven. Streichquartette op. 18.  Huflaikhan Die Welt der Gegenwartskulturen, 1997.  {Last updated: 20.08.99], {Cited:  15th of. September, 2000].p. 1 - 4.  Available from the internet: "".

Thayer's Life of Beethoven.  Revised and Edited by Elliot Forbes.  Volume I.  Princeton, New Jersey.  Princeton University Press.  1967.  Paperback Edition.