Michael Parloff: Lecture on Beethoven Quartets Op. 131 & Op. 135

welcome to the final leg of the journey through the Beethoven string quartets we’re going to begin with the penultimate quartet that he composed opus 131 in c-sharp minor he completed this quartet in May of 1826 which is just about ten months before the end of his life in March of 1827 when he was done with his quartet and the final quartet in F major his friend Karl Holtz whom we have met before he played second violin in the chiffons aghhhhhh quartet he asked Beethoven which of your quartets is your favorite quartet and Beethoven was a little bit evasive at first he said each in its own way art demands of us that we not stand still and of course this response contains the essence of his artistic credo he never did stand still he always was moving forth going off into unknown territory but he thought about it some more and then he came back and he admitted that in many ways this one the c-sharp minor’ quartet was his favorite although he couched it in rather oblique terms he said in this quartet you will find a new manner of voice treatment and thank God there is less lack of fantasy than ever before this is a peculiar way of putting it it’s like there’s less lack of understatement in putting it that way because this piece was considered so avant-garde when it was composed that it was not performed publicly until 1835 a full nine years after it was composed as to why it was Beethoven’s favorite quartet we can only speculate but I have a sense that it’s a quartet which combines enormous diversity with enormous sense of integration in the and in many ways it is unprecedented in its in its form it ranges over a huge number of different styles and characters and and forms it’s about 35 minutes in its totality it doesn’t stop in between the movements it goes from one right into the next it begins in c-sharp minor’ in this rather world-weary fugue goes on for about six or seven minutes and it doesn’t really end it kind of melts away to a Fermata and then suddenly we find ourselves in a second movement which is in D major a much brighter and more earthly and joyful realm and that is a Rondo form movement and from there it goes into B minor for a third movement which is less of a movement and more of a transition it is a a wordless recitative which takes us into the central pillar of this of this heart it really is the the keystone of this arch it is 13-minute a major theme and variations movement after that into E major for a very upbeat scherzo and trio after that into G sharp minor a very dark key where he writes what seems like a wordless opera Aria but it doesn’t really last very long and finally we return complete this journey back into the tonality of c-sharp minor’ for a movement which is in Allegro Sonata Allegro form and so this large piece has these main pillars the first movement is a few the Fourth Movement is theme in variations the last movement is Sonata Allegro and these were the forms that I think were most important to him at the end of his life and also it is this great sense of tying it all together in a neat bow at the end that I think must have appealed to him it certainly appealed to many of his most visionary followers for instance Schubert in his last weeks on earth he was this was November of the following year of 1820 hey he was on his deathbed and he asked Karl Holtz would you bring a string quartet here to play opus 131 for me I would like to hear it and they did and Karl Holtz described his response Schubert fell into such a state of excitement and enthusiasm that we were all frightened for him

Schubert’s comment at the completion of the performance was after this what is there left for us to write a few years later Robert Schumann fell in love with this piece he was also fascinated by the first of the late quartets the e-flat major quartet opus 127 and he wrote they have a grandeur which no words can express they seem to me to stand on the extreme boundary of all that has hitherto been attained by human art and imagination and perhaps the great composer who was most impressed by this piece was Ricard Wagner in 1854 in Zurich he organized a concert in which this was the featured piece and he actually coached the string quartet because he wanted to hear it played a particularly and some years later in 1870 in honor of the centennial year of Beethoven’s birth he wrote an essay about this piece which is very flowery and poetic and he describes the piece in these terms if we wish to form a picture of a day in the life of our sacred genius Beethoven we can do no better than to derive it from one of his own marvelous compositions to illustrate such a typical day in Beethoven’s inner life I will choose the c-sharp minor’ quartet this piece begins with a fugue it’s a very different kind of a few than the few that we saw at the end of the B flat major quartet it is world-weary it is as this aura of infinite sadness to it and I think that by beginning with a fugue and by having written his gross of fuga in the previous quartet in a way he is coming full circle relative to his feelings about counterpoint and Bach in general if you were at the first of these conversations in which we talked about the first 3 opus 18 quartets I gave a little bit of background information about Beethoven when he was growing up in bond as a teenager and I think I mentioned that he had fallen in love with the well-tempered clavier of Bach he had studied it as a pianist but also as a budding composer and had committed much of it to memory when he came to live permanently in Vienna in 1792 at the age of 22 he went ostensibly to study with Hyden that didn’t work out so well so he moved on to a lesser composer but perhaps a better pedagogue gentleman named Johann Georg Albrecht burger and Albrecht burgers approach to teaching composition was through the avenue of learning to control counterpoint he felt that that was the way that you learned and so Beethoven’s early quartets in the development sections particularly have a great deal of counterpoint and as we move through all of these quartets when we get into the middle quartets counterpoint fugle textures become more and more important for instance in the third of the razumovsky quartets the last movement C major has this blistering fugato at the beginning of it and as we have seen in the last quartets the gross of fuga and now this I think that for Beethoven in his last days fugue had become this Nexus in his mind between spirit and technique and and and everything that went into composition to introduce this piece a little bit further I will read you what vogner himself wrote about this first movement he said the long opening Adagio surely the saddest utterance ever made in notes I should call the awakening of the day on which to quote goethe’s faust in the whole long course it shall not fulfill a single wish not one it is at the same time a penitential prayer a communion with God out of a firm belief in the eternal good

as you hear it has this aura of infinite sadness and if we look at the the subject on which this fugue is built we see that it really consists of two contrasting elements there is what we’ll call the the head motive which has this rising pleading quality and then it descends down onto this devastating groan and then this tail motive the other component moves twice as quickly and it really feels like what vogner outlined these praying penitence moving perhaps a little bit more consolingly forward and in this fugle movement he combines the full subject itself with these two components and he treats them much as Bach treated the subject for the art of fugue this was a compendium of fugues and canons that apparently Beethoven admired a great deal and so he does similar things to what Bach does with his own subject he will give it to us in the regular version he will speed it up show that it is twice as fast he will slow it down so that it is twice as slow sometimes he will layer it with itself in canons and various kinds of stretchy I’ve chosen a passage in E major from the middle of this view in which all of this happens and I’ve just written it into the part and in subtitles so you can look at it as it goes by and and hear how he treats it we wend our way through this this world weary fugue and we finally come to an enormous climax with this head motive again way up in the highest range of the first violin and once this has happened you’ll see it just melts away it comes down to passes through C major and finally it just melts and we have just a single octave at the end rather ambiguous harmony so the piece doesn’t seem to end it just rests there for a second you and then from this c-sharp point of arrival it becomes a point of departure and immediately we launch up a half step into D major for this Rondo movement and it’s quite different in its character it is jig like it is joyful and being a Rondo we know that this theme that we’ve just listened to is going to come back at regular intervals over the course of this movement interspersed with what we expect to be contrasting material in fact the non Rondo material is cut from the same

cloth as the Rondo itself and so this movement has a kind of textural homogeneity just like the c-sharp minor’ fugue had a textural homogeneity and this is how these movements work they contrast greatly with each other sometimes not so much within the confines of the movements themselves and as with the original movement the first movement he rises to a big climax and then again it melts away and it leaves us not on an octave but on a an interval with only two notes a D and an f-sharp the two lower components of a D major triad and then immediately we go into the next movement which is a wordless recitative and he manifests this modulation through the simplest mean possible he takes this D and F sharp which were the bottom of a D major triad and he had to be natural to the bottom which means now we’re in a B minor triad and this music again we’ve seen this before it’s like he’s breaking down these distinction between what is vocal music what is instrumental music and it serves as a transition into the next movement and we know that recitatives always introduced a song or an aria and we go into the fourth movement and we hear the theme upon which he is going to construct six variations and it is a very very simple theme indeed it feels almost like folk music hate bar phrases ABA I believe is the form of a theme couldn’t be simpler vogner himself describes it as the blessed embodiment of native innocence and yet as you see the theme go by you’ll notice a few things about it there’s no downbeat there’s a rest and then we have down in the cello pizza Conti like heart beats driving the thing forward and in the first violin and the second violin you’ll see that they he has stitched the melody together going from first to second to first to second it’s so seamless that you’ll see it go by but if I hadn’t done that I think you might not even notice that it’s two instruments playing the melody and as we move through the theme when we get to the repeat of this theme he makes it more explicit what he’s doing and so this heart beat becomes not one pizza cutter note but a double stop and he drops the second violin an octave so now we can hear clearly that this is two violins playing this theme not one and then we move into the variations on this theme and these are a very unusual kind of variations movement because if you think back about some of the earlier variations for instance in the harp quartet opus 74 he ends that one with a similarly simple theme and then each of the six variations upon that theme are one of his loud one is soft one is loud one is soft he lines them up like hedges in a formal classical garden and once she establishes the sound of a particular variation he maintains that from beginning to end these are very different because they develop organically within each of the variations for instance the first one begins with the lower components of the quartet and they play what sounds like a bit of a theme and then the first violin moving twice as fast comes down to meet them with a chromatic line in sixteenth notes but rather than stayin in this opening texture it evolves it becomes more

intricate the rhythm becomes more laced with dotted rhythms it becomes more intense we hear the first violin go up to the highest register and stay there so it almost reaches a kind of climax you it’s a substantial movement it’s 13 minutes long and so he even provides what to me seem like moments of comic relief like at the beginning of the fourth variation it begins with this lilting waltz and then he begins to interject Pizza kadhi which have a decidedly goofy kind of quality to them and you know vogner described again very evocatively the effect of these variations he said beethoven finds unending rapture in ceaseless unheard-of transformations under prismatic lights which his immortal genius casts upon it and I have a sense that he must have been referring with this use of that phrase prismatic lights to the fifth of the variations which has this almost spooky quality it it abandons melody it’s all harmony and just shifting textures it sounds almost like Beethoven Ian says Waldo to me perhaps the spiritual high point of this movement and maybe the whole piece is the sixth variation it begins with a long set of throbbing chords in the lower components of the quartet and they continue like this no melody at all and then after a while the first violin peels away and emerges in this rather ecstatic prayerful melody and then it comes down and it gathers up the second violinist and they come down in thirds in this very chorale like beautiful meditational melody and then from this spiritual high point things begin to get strange the cellist begins to act like some small child that wants to pull it the trouser legs of the other members of the quartet for attention and as you hear they try to ignore him but like small children he will not be ignored and it becomes more persistent and finally the first violinist like parents everywhere gets annoyed and seems to say if you don’t stop that I’m gonna stop the quartet and slap you but the damage is done and the court the variation changes in its style in its character quite radically after that and

it sort of dissolves and we go through a lot of different keys and it ends in a completely different mood than it began and then this disruptive cellist takes us into the the next movement this a major scare so with what sounds like a rather flatulent report and this unleashes craziness it’s like everybody it’s it seems to me like schoolyard pranks at this point you have this image of children running around and pulling each other’s hair and shoving each other down onto the ground and giggling at each other feels like thanks like children’s pranks children’s games and then the trio seems like a school class trip to the countryside we’ve got this bucolic bagpipe music over very rapidly interlocking components in the viola and the bait and the cello they call this Hakka Dame which means it’s like a musical zipper these parts fit together exactly and then we go back and forth between the first section and the second section and it begins to feel like children telling the same silly joke over and over again and then we reached this point where it just disintegrates they’re going along and then they seem to lose their place the music just stops and then they try to start up again and they stop again and then the viola and the cello seem to decide they’re going to be these Stern parents and they’re going to issue an and water to everybody to get it together and of course this has the usual effect which is that things get worse and we hear very peculiar sonic effects you hear what sounded to me like Bar Toki and pizza caddy and then he goes way up onto the bridge for this extended ponticello effect it must be the first time that anybody really used this in an extended way it creates this wiry nasal quality but them with cadence and E major and suddenly BAM we are in G sharp G sharp minor in fact and this is this wordless Aria which vogner describes as a short but gloomy spell of brooding as if the master were sunk in the lowest depth of his dream there’s such dark and contemplative music and we think perhaps this might go on for ten minutes but it doesn’t it stops rather quickly and suddenly we find ourselves in the last movement c-sharp minor’ again and vogner this is his last description describes this movement as the fury of the world’s dance fierce pleasure agony ecstasy of love hanger passion suffering lightning flashes and thunder rolls and it begins with this swipe of Beethoven’s massive bear claw now if you recall from the previous conversation he was writing all of these pieces at breakneck speed and there are over lacking elements and one of the elements that we hear throughout

the three previous quartets the galitsin quartets are rising half steps and falling half steps as a motivic component here we see them so la dou C so law sido so there is a sense that we are beginning to to come full circle here and then he gives us the first theme itself which is bold and fierce and really feels like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse galloping at breakneck speed across the musical landscape and then a much more exotic and deeply lamenting theme and at some subliminal level I think we begin to realize that we’ve we’ve heard this before it seems like we are coming back to the beginning I’ll play you this lamenting theme again and you can look at it and I will play the opening fugue theme from 35 minutes ago and although it is much slower you can see by looking at them side by side that they are essentially mirror images of each other and we hear this law that head motive coming back now more and more explicitly and finally he just outlines it with everybody playing it in unison three times and again from this sense of integration with what happened at the beginning of the piece a half an hour before we get some sense of perhaps why for Beethoven this was his most successful string quartet and really perhaps his most successful piece it is a great masterpiece he gave it to his publisher early in 1827 he said I want her dedicated to this gentleman baron Josef von Stroheim he said to whom I am indebted for many kindnesses and the kindnesses he was referring to specifically were for taking his nephew Karl von Beethoven into the army and as a prelude to the final of his string quartets an F major I will complete a story that I began to tell a few sessions ago about Beethoven’s relationship with his nephew and his sister-in-law Johanna Beethoven in 1815 lost his brother his name was Karl as well and Beethoven by that time had pretty much come to terms of the fact that he was not going to get married but he had not really come to terms of the fact that he was not going to have a family of some sort and in the wake of the death of his brother he decided that he would be the father of young Karl but it was more than that he really decided that his sister-in-law Johanna was not fit to bring up the boy that she was a corrupting influence he really thought of her as little more than a prostitute and so he was so had strong and and hell-bent on wrenching the boy away from her that this ended up in the courts and it raged on for five years and finally pulling every political string he could the courts in Vienna awarded him sole custody of the boy but of course that wasn’t the end of the story because the mother didn’t give up wanted to be with her son the son didn’t give up wanted to be with his mother and every time he would slink off to be with her Beethoven would feel more and more betrayed and he came to a point where he was trying to seek the boy away in boarding schools and deny her access and this got really more and more demented and there was a point where in 1826 towards the summer he was at the Vienna Polytechnic Institute and Beethoven had told the man with whom Carl was boarding this one might be led to suspect that perhaps Carl is really enjoying himself in the evening or even at night in some company which is

certainly not so desirable I urge you to pay attention to this and not to let Carl leave your house at night under any pretext whatsoever unless you have received something in writing from me through Carl and you can only imagine how the boy felt I mean he has this overbearing genius of a knuckle he cannot possibly satisfied and this uncle is now trying to control his comings and his goings and at a certain point this boy just gave up and he went out and he pawned his watch bought himself a couple of pistols and he went up early in August I think on the 5th of the 6th of August 1826 onto the mountain at the left this is the high Rouen Stein ruins outside of Baden and he shot himself in the head amazingly he survived and he left one may have misfired the right one he managed to shoot himself but it lodged in his skull knocking him out didn’t penetrate a drover who was passing by roused the boy who woke up and must have thought how amazing to find myself alive and he had the presence of mind to say to the drover take me to my mother’s don’t take me to my uncle’s when she saw him she was of course devastated and she had him transferred to the General Hospital in Vienna where he spent a month healing from this wound that he that he had dealt himself beethoven was similarly devastated and those who knew him said that he aged precipitously went from looking like a man in his middle 50s which he was to looking like a man in his middle 70s very quickly and if you can say anything salutary about this it is that Beethoven I think finally realized what a profound mistake he had been making and he agreed to let his nephew go into the army and so he contacted Baron von Stroheim and arranged for him to go in this at least would give him military discipline and older men to shape his life but of course he had this wound and his hair hadn’t grown in and there was this terrible brouhaha going on in Vienna surrounding what had happened and so Beethoven decided the thing to do was to take his nephew on a trip 40 miles to the west of Vienna to an area in the Danube River Valley called connexin Dorf where his brother Niklaus Johann had an estate and this Lear envisage that you see here is his brother and as you can see from looking at it they were very different kinds of people his brother was a pharmacist by trade an apothecary and apparently he made a good deal of money by dealing with the French soldiers sold them medications at a premium and this did not endear him to the Viennese or Austrian populace but he was very proud of himself for having made all this money and he invested it into this estate at tonight’s endorphine right to Beethoven occasionally and he would sign his letters from your brother Johan land owner and Beethoven would respond saying from your brother Ludvig brain owner which I think tells you something about the quality of their relationship but there were salutary aspects of being there in Galax and dwarf it gave him and young Carl some time to decompress and to try to reconcile themselves to this situation and also perhaps more importantly from our perspective as I think I mentioned this area the Danube River Valley was very beautiful it reminded him of the Ryan River Valley where he had grown up outside of Bonn and where he loved to walk outside and incubate his his thoughts particularly his musical thoughts and so while he was there walking to the countryside outside of connexin Dorf he was thinking about this final string quartet in the pastoral key of F major and this string quartet is a very different sounding piece than any of the previous late quartets it is rather good-natured it is in for movement rather than five six or seven it is conversational and even a little bit comical just on the surface of it at least and this leads some people to think that it’s a kind of a throwback like a hiding hiding dish kind of a piece that he in a way could have written when he was writing his opus 18 quartet some 25 or 30 years before and that’s a mistake because really in terms

of its technique and its spirit and this sense of totality totality to it this underlying integration it is much much closer to the c-sharp minor’ quartet that we just talked about than any of those really early quartets and to give you a little appreciation for what I’m talking about I’ll take you for about three minutes under the hood of this first movement and a little of the last movement and show you some of the interrelationships going to the beginning of the piece I will play it for you very good-natured strolling conversational now let’s leap ahead to the beginning of the last movement and he gives us this epigraph which he actually wrote into the score the resolution reached with difficulty and he asks a musical question moose s signed this tense interrogatory phrase the drops by a minor third and up and diminished fourth and then he gives us an answer yes moose sign and if we look at this gesture lock oh so so T thaw G B flat F now if we go back to the very beginning of the piece so lousy far Souma it’s so C saw those same three notes and if we look at the first three grace notes so allow C which we hear before the viola and then we hear them in this little violin hiccup and then we look ahead to the next phrase so domi fado faso sido so la sol la si now if we jump again to the fourth movement and look at that question so law it’s a rising half-step if you turn it upside down put it in the base ray go and then again if you jump ahead to the next phrase so saw law so see law falling half steps have you had enough of this yet I don’t really mean to make this into a musical anatomy lesson I just wanted to give you some scratching of the surface of what’s going on in this piece had a under the surface level and this is just the first ten bars of the piece the whole piece is put together like this it’s very much like looking at a beautiful Swiss watch and part of the appeal of a Swiss watch is of course it has this surface Beauty but we know that if we pop off the top and look at this dense interrelated network of gears and weights and things that are swinging back and forth that it has this astonishing coherence underneath the surface of course we’re not really meant to think about that but it somehow gives us more appreciation for the integrity of the watch or this movement as a whole to know that that’s what’s operating beneath the surface this movement is also a little comical some people think of it as the string quartet Falstaff to the C sharp miners string quartet Hotel oh and the comic elements really rise to the fore in the second movement which is a scherzo and as we’ve gone through all of these quartets over and over again we see that Beethoven loves to play hide the downbeat with us he loves to play metrical games sort of making it mysterious as to where the downbeat really is to give you a sense of that in the upcoming movement click along with me and I will play this for you and see if you can keep that going while you’re clicking how did you do you can only imagine what it’s like to try to play this piece and then as we’ve seen so often before after

he obliterates our sense of where the pulse is he comes at us and he says oh I’m sorry you wanted to know where the downbeat was didn’t you let me show you it happens like 50 times it’s like I’ll stick it in your ear that’s where the downbeat is and from this second movement we again change directions radically go into the third movement which is in the much more ecstatic key of D flat major it’s a movement that when he was sketching it out he wrote a little title into the sketch he called it a sweet song of rest song of peace and as you hear he positions the quartet at the lowest husky’s tessitura where it really sounds like like a a whispered prayer and the melody itself is so simple it couldn’t be any simpler than it is it starts on the home key of the home note of D flat goes down scale-wise a perfect fourth to it a flat comes back up to the D flat wines around to an F comes back down to the D flat to B it sounds like the musical representation of an infinity sign and we discovered then that this is a theme and variations movement for beautiful variations and if you’re looking for a place in this movement or this entire piece that in some way seems to relate to all of the despair and disappointments of his life I think we can look into the second variation as perhaps that moment it goes from D flat major into the N harmonic minor of c-sharp minor which as we saw from the previous piece is a key that he associates with world weariness and here this flowing warm music suddenly freezes it just becomes absolutely solid and it hardly moves at all and then finally we move into the third variation and this frozen river begins to thaw and it begins to move ahead again and flow and we discover that this beautiful theme has been designed in such a way that it works in perfect Canon with itself and so you’ll hear it first in the cello and then several octaves above in the first violin and finally at the end of this movement we come back to this epigraph that we saw a while ago and we asked ourselves at this point so what does this mean what did it mean to Beethoven and of course there’s a lot of speculation about the meaning of this question in this answer and before I get to that speculation let me just play you the introduction to this last movement in which we hear that question asked with ever greater tension and intensity five times

and of course we already know what the answer is and so what does it mean there are all kinds of speculative answers to that question ranging from the silly and the frivolous to the profound and the metaphysical and I’ll start with the silly and the frivolous there was a friend of Beethoven’s or perhaps I’ll call him an acquaintance who lived in Vienna he was a wealthy man named Ignatz Deb sure and he was a man who loved music and he was had adventurous tastes and he loved to premiere new works by Beethoven in his own home somehow he had missed attending the premiere on March the 21st 1826 of opus 130 the B flat major quartet with the gross of fuga and so he decided he wanted to have a concert party and feature that piece and asked the suponsaa quartet to play it and so we approached Beethoven and said could I borrow the parts and Beethoven said sure just pay me the fifty floor and subscription fee that you owe me for you know that concert that you missed and they’re yours for the night and Deb sure was apparently very wealthy but very cheap and so he invited the second violinist Beethoven’s friend Carl Holtz over to his home to negotiate with him and at a certain point in their conversation apparently Dempster said to him must it be must I pay you this subscription fee and Holtz went back to Beethoven and he conveyed that question in Beethoven apparently threw up his hands and grabbed a piece of music paper and wrote out a quick Canon as we’ve seen before that he does and he said give this to Dempster it’ll answer his question that apparently is the actual etymology of this of this idea but it’s not very satisfying when he wrote to his publisher Moritz Schlesinger he wrote to him he said here my friend is my last quartet it will be the last and indeed it has given me much trouble for I could not bring myself to compose the last movement but as your letters were reminding me of it in the end I decided to compose it and that is the reason why I have written the motto the difficult resolution must it be it must be that’s no more satisfying than the story about Dempster there was a writer back in the 1920s named JW n Sullivan who wrote a book called Beethoven’s spiritual development and he offered what I think is a somewhat more satisfying conjecture the motto is a summary of the great Beethovenian problem of destiny and submission but Beethoven has found his solution to the problem and he treats it the old question with lightness even with the humor of one to whom the issue is settled and familiar the portentous question meets with a jovial almost exultant answer it would appear that at the end of his life the inner Beethoven who expressed himself in music was content so if we look again at this it must be gesture Lotto so so see far GP flat F we see these descending

fourths and if we look at the canonic gesture that follows it Tamir a doremi mere a doe seed or a foie doe me see then to a major and then we arrived at the second theme which is quite childlike we heard in the cello it goes lock meet me see Josie and so as you see this whole movement comes out of this it must be gesture in this descending forth and when we get to the development section everything is either the theme itself or that canonic gesture based on the theme itself or the second theme based on the theme itself and toward the end of the piece he returns to that introductory tense interrogatory section and then he just blows it all away and in the last moments of the piece he gives us this very childlike second theme again Pizza kado and it seems to wander off into the distance getting further and further and then if the very most distant he turns around and he shouts in our face it must be and that’s the end of his full string quartets but there was one more movement that he owed his publisher you may remember when we were talking about the B flat major quartet opus 130 feet Edyta ‘the the gross of fuga and his publisher had rejected that he said publish it separately it’s not a good ending we can’t sell the quartet and so he agreed to write another more accessible ending to the piece and he waited until after he had composed this quartet the F major at connexin Dorf and then he composed that final movement it’s called the the Rondo finale and it’s a very lovely movement it’s it’s nothing like The Grocer fuga he gave it to his publisher his publisher loved it they all loved it and it became the ending of choice for opus 130 but of course the question always hovers over that quartet which is the right ending for it clearly in Beethoven’s own mind his original architecture was supposed to culminate with the gross of fuga which was this culmination of what I think I mentioned was the paradigm of classical dissolution and so there’s always this question and of course back in the 19th century when nobody understood the gross of fuga they ended it with this this Rondo finale in the 20th century with Schaumburg and Stravinsky and all of the others it became more palatable in a sense and so in our own time we more often than not hear the piece performed with the fugle finale and so this question is it’s just hanging in the air and I was looking for an answer to it and I came across a paragraph I think a very even-handed and mature assessment by a wonderful writer named Lewis Lockwood great Beethoven scholar I’ll just read her to you with the Rondo finale of opus 130 and the grand fugue opus 133 the dualism is one of the alternatives Beethoven was in effect giving the world two choices not absolutely displacing one with the other and that legacy has not been lost on performers many of whom now in Beethoven cycles play the whole work twice once with each finale in effect they are being true to the spirit with which Beethoven in his last months came to a

complex vision of this great work and so with that evasive or if you prefer wisely all-encompassing view I have reached the end of my own conversation about these 16 Beethoven string quartets and the Rondo finale and I would like to say thank you all for coming and it has been a great pleasure to be here at CMS again and I look forward to seeing you all again sometime soon you