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Three Quartets for 2 violins, viola and cello (F ma., E mi., C ma.) op. 59, 1-3

Listening samples
Nr. 1: 1. Allegro (365 kB)
Nr. 1: 2. Allegretto vivace e sempre scherzando (365 kB)
Nr. 1: 3. Adagio molto e mesto (365 kB)
Nr. 1: 4. Thème russe. Allegro (365 kB)
Nr. 2: 1. Allegro (365 kB)
Nr. 2: 2. Molto Adagio. Si tratta questo pezzo con molto di sentimento (365 kB)
Nr. 2: 3. Allegretto - Maggiore (Thème russe) (365 kB)
Nr. 2: 4. Finale. Presto (365 kB)
Nr. 3: 1. Introduzione. Andante con moto - Allegro vivace (365 kB)
Nr. 3: 2. Andante con moto quasi Allegretto (365 kB)
Nr. 3: 3. Menuetto grazioso (365 kB)
Nr. 3: 4. Allegro molto (365 kB)

Composition
ca. April-May to November 1806
dedicated to Andreas Kyrillowitsch Graf Rasumowsky

In the winter season of 1804-05 the violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh presented a series of public chamber music recitals for the first time in music history, probably at the Lobkowitz palace. Beethoven's op. 18 was part of that series. The composer certainly knew of this project well in advance. In October 1804 he enquired of Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig about sales opportunities for a new set of quartets, although at that time he was still busy completing and reviewing his opera Leonore (Fidelio). He only started composing the op. 59 string quartets in spring 1806. Whether his main reason for writing them was his contact with Schuppanzigh concerning his concert series or an explicit commission from Andreas Kyrillovich Count Razumovsky, to whom he finally dedicated the quartets, or whether Beethoven himself freely chose to write them will never be known for sure. The dedicatee must have been decided upon early on because the first two quartets include Russian melodies from Ivan Pratsch’s collection of Russian folk songs (1790). Later Beethoven used Pratsh's collection as a model for some of his musical versions in WoO 158.

The op. 59 quartets were probably first performed in late January or early February 1807 under the same conditions as op. 18. Again the musicians belonged to the Schuppanzigh quartet and the performance was held in private, probably at the Lobkowitz palace (Razumovsky’s Vienna palace was only completed in 1808, at which time he made the Schuppanzigh quartet his personal quartet until 1816). In early March the Leipziger Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung could already report of three very long and demanding string quartets by Beethoven that were of great interest to connoisseurs. The quartets must have been presented in public a short while later as another brief article appeared in early May, saying that Beethoven's latest demanding but dignified quartets were increasingly well-liked and that music lovers hoped they would soon be engraved and published. (J.R.)

Music manuscripts
Skizzen, BH 100
Skizzen, HCB Mh 72
Autograph, op. 59,3, Partitur, BH 62 Autograph with sound

First editions
Originalausgabe, op. 59, Stimmen, Bureau des arts et d'industrie, 580, 584, 585, J. Van der Spek C op. 59
Originalausgabe, op. 59, 1-3, Stimmen, Bureau des Arts et d'Industrie, 580, 584, 585; Teilscan, C 59 / 23
Originalausgabe, op. 59, 1-3, Stimmen, Bureau des Arts et d'Industrie, 584-585; Teilscan, C 59 / 13
Titelauflage, op. 59, 1-3, Stimmen, Haslinger, 4026-4028; Teilscan, C 59 / 2
Titelauflage, op. 59, 1-3, Stimmen, Riedl, 580, 584, 585; Teilscan, C 59 / 31
Titelauflage, op. 59, 1-3, Stimmen, Steiner, 4026-4028; Teilscan, C 59 / 28
Frühdruck, op. 59, 1-3, Stimmen, Clementi, C 59 / 3
Frühdruck, op. 59, 1-3, Stimmen, Clementi, C 59 / 8

Scores
Bibliographic data in library catalogue

Written documents
Brief an Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig, Wien, 5. Juli 1806, HCB Br 67
Brief an Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig, Grätz, 3. September 1806, HCB Br 68
Brief an Breitkopf und Härtel in Leipzig, Wien, 18. November 1806, NE 285
Brief an Nikolaus Simrock in Bonn, Wien, 26. April 1807, HCB Br 222
Brief an Ignaz und Camille Pleyel in Paris, Wien, 26. April 1807, NE 161
Brief an Josephine Deym, Wien, kurz vor dem 11. Mai 1807, HCB BBr 84
Brief an Ignaz von Gleichenstein in Wien, Baden, vor dem 23. Juli 1807, HCB Br 125

Pictures
Fürst Andreas Rasumowsky (1752-1836) - Reproduktion einer Lithographie von Josef Lanzedelly (der Ältere), 2. Hälfte 19. Jahrhundert?, B 2385
Das Joachim-Quartett beim Musizieren - Radierung von Ferdinand Schmutzer nach einer eigenen Zeichnung, 1904, B 2399
Graf Andreas Rasumowsky (1752-1836) - Fotografie eines Gemäldes von Ferdinand Waldmüller, um 1906, B 168
Graf Andreas Rasumowsky (1752-1836) - Fotografie einer Lithographie von Josef Lanzedelly, um 1910?, NE 81, Band III, Nr. 420
Fürst Andreas Rasumowsky (1752-1836) - Fotokopie einer Lithographie von Josef Lanzedelly der Ältere, 1958, B 858/a

Literature
Bibliographic data in library catalogue

Manuscript sources in other libraries
Berlin: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Musikabteilung mit Mendelssohn-Archiv
Berlin: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Musikabteilung mit Mendelssohn-Archiv
Großbritannien, London: Royal College of Music
Österreich, Wien: Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, Archiv, Bibliothek und Sammlungen

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E-Mail: bibliothek@beethoven-haus-bonn.de