Haydn – Berg – Brahms

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In contrast with Haydn, who composed and published 83 string quartets, Brahms only allowed three such works to be printed. Before that, however, he had composed over twenty string quartets that were then withdrawn and subsequently destroyed. The high standard he set himself paid dividends. His Quartet Op. 51 stepped out from the shadows of its great forebears, showing Brahms’ unique technique, which Schönberg later described in his concept of “developing variation”.  His pupil Alban Berg was only 24 when he composed his String Quartet No. 3. Its first section took the form of a sonata’s main movement; the second movement was a Rondo, which was developed on a scale so vast and so innovative that it stunned the music world of the day — just as it does in our own time, a hundred years later! Finally, everything comes back to the “Father of the String Quartet”: Haydn, who modestly titled his Op. 74 no. 3 “Sixth quartet in G minor”. Because of the galloping rhythm employed in the finale, this piece became known as the “Rider” quartet, a soubriquet which still contributes to its popularity with audiences. Programme: Joseph Haydn: String Quartet in G minor, Op. 74 no. 3, “The Rider” Alban Berg: String Quartet Op. 3 Johannes Brahms: String Quartet in A minor, Op. 51 no. 2    

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