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Quartett-Tisch in der Bibliothek des Beethoven-Hauses, 2001

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Mö 1

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This 18th century quartet table is made from cherry wood and has bronze table fittings. It features four music stands that can be raised by a spring pressure mechanism as well as drawers with writing mats to copy sheet music.

The first rectangular quartet tables were probably manufactured in France in the mid-18th century. From there, they spread all over Europe. The music tables used before were either round or oval and were not associated with a specific orchestration. When quartet play was at its height in the 19th century, this now rarely seen piece of furniture constituted the centre of private gentleman's circles. Scoffingly, a reader of the Leipzig music journal "Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung" wrote about the quartet evenings: "Who used to enjoy a drink together was a friend: Soon, the quartet table will supplant the bar."

At Beethoven's time this quartet table belonged to an official from the electorate of Cologne. At his house in Linz on the Rhine he regularly held quartet and chess evenings that Beethoven supposedly attended as well.

In 1890, the descendants of the court official gave this piece of furniture to the Beethoven Haus Association as a gift, along with a recount of its history. Until then, the table had been used as a dining table. Today, the quartet table stands in the library of the Beethoven Haus where it serves as a decorative work station. Readers from all over the world have a seat at it and while immersing themselves in their studies enjoy this historic piece of furniture. (F.G.)

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