Beethoven's Quartets

Beethoven's Quartets

Beethoven's Quartets

Beethoven's Quartets

Excerpt

The splendid memorial that Joseph de Marliave was to erect in honour of Beethoven and his immortal quartets was destined to become the shrine in which is entombed his own precious memory, a memorial over which might well be inscribed the words: 'Pendent interrupta opera!'--too significant of his brief and glorious life. In the request to set my name also upon this memorial I have received a sad and honoured privilege. Those who pass by will at least read my name and know my sorrow, and should they stay to examine this fine work, the labour of loving and skilful hands, they will share too the realization of my grief.

It has long been a source of surprise that so important a work as the Beethoven quartets has not had its historian or critic to do it special honour, and the scanty reviews now lost to sight in the mass of musical literature are far from satisfying this long-felt need, indeed only emphasize it. Even German critics, who have written--well or ill--upon every conceivable subject, have not to this day produced a standard study of these quartets. Certainly it was a tremendous undertaking, fascinating though it may be, needing years of work and critical gifts of the most versatile order. It would entail first of all the tracing of the genre back to its source and through its slow evolution from the unaccompanied madrigal to the first quartets of Haydn; only from a study of its growth and form could rules of structure be disentangled and formulated. Again, it would entail research into the art of Haydn and Mozart, Beethoven's predecessors and his early models, before the art of Beethoven himself could be touched. Finally there looms ahead the study and analysis of this colossal work, the like of which future generations will never see. Each of these quartets is in itself an . . .

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