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Ludwig van Beethoven, Quartett für zwei Violinen, Viola und Violoncello (C-Dur) op. 59,3, Partitur, Autograph

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, BH 62

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From house quartet to a tune on television

The manuscript shown here is the autograph score of the String Quartet op. 59 no. 3, the last of the so-called "Razumovsky" Quartets. Count Andreas Kyrillowitsch Razumovsky (1752-1836), the Russian Ambassador in Vienna, was a great music lover and between the years 1808 and 1816 he supported a permanent string quartet under the direction of Ignaz Schuppanzigh. Although Beethoven and Razumovsky knew each other well, the fact that the three quartets were dedicated to the latter was not merely as a result of their friendship: rich patrons paid for musical compositions to be dedicated to themselves. Razumovsky's influence on the quartets is apparent as Beethoven incorporated Russian folk-songs into the first two. There are none in the third quartet, which is generally simpler in style. This is perhaps the reason why people of the time considered the third quartet to be the only tolerable one in the series. The first two especially were reviewed negatively in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung (27 February 1807). They were described as being "very long and difficult, profound and excellently constructed, but generally difficult to grasp". The success of the third quartet can be seen by the fact that arrangements were made during Beethoven's lifetime: in 1819 for piano, and 1820 for two guitars. The quartet has remained popular ever since: the fugue in the last movement has been used as the opening melody for a very popular German television programme. (J.R.)

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