All tagged String Quartets

Johannes Brahms may have accepted the dedication of Dvorak’s String Quartet in d minor, op. 34 (1877), but (in rather gentle manner for Brahms, when in a critical mood) wrote to Dvorak that when filling in the sharps and flats in his music he should take another look at the notes themselves, and noted (with implicit criticism) how quickly Dvorak composed. Is this criticism fair?
Great repertories, such as the mature work of Mendelssohn, the mature work of Hindemith, the mature work of Richard Strauss, almost anything by Rachmaninov, are slighted again and again by the imposition of a progressive narrative on musical history. What’s more old fashioned now, I ask you, Pierrot Lunaire or the Rachmaninov Etudes Tableaux? And I say this as a committed supporter of the aspirations of the so-called “avant garde”; at least where these aspirations are coupled with craftsmanship and sincerity, and as opposed to those composers who attempt facilely to gain a public by making their scores relevant, or as opposed especially to those composers who cynically employ the resources of the past without having been trained in the techniques of the past.
Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 13, written at the age of 18, and his String Quartet in E-flat, Op. 12, written at the age of 20, are at once the most knowlegeable glosses on Beethoven in existence and yet at the same time deeply original works. Beethoven’s late style was not exactly terra incognita for the early romantics, but middle period works, especially the Fifth Symphony, exerted much more influence, generally. Mendelssohn is the exception. As he comments himself, “You don’t have to start at the beginning…”. Early Mendelssohn bends back only a year or two to embrace late Beethoven. These quartets are from 1827 and 1829, and therefore can properly be regarded as a sort of continuation of late Beethoven rather than works with a retrospective orientation. Consider a wildly different repertory that looks back to late Beethoven, the Rochberg quartets, especially the “Beethoven” movement in the Third, and you will understand the difference between the creator and the curator.