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Hello and welcome to Sticky Notes: The Classical Music Podcast!  This podcast is for anyone who loves classical music, or is just getting ready to dive in for the very first time.  Thanks so much, and I hope you enjoy it!  

Feb 15, 2024

In 1806, the 36 year old Beethoven received a commission from the Russian ambassador in Vienna, Count Andreas Razumovsky. Razumovsky wanted a set of string quartets for what would soon be his house string quartet which included some of the finest players Vienna had to offer. As part of his commission, Razumovsky asked Beethoven to include a Russian theme in each one of the quartets. Beethoven obliged him in 2 of the quartets, and the Razumovsky quartets, Op. 59 1, 2, and 3, were born. 1806 was near the height of Beethoven’s astonishing so called Middle Period, where the scale of his music drastically expanded from his earlier works and he began writing in a so called heroic style, with much more brash and adventurous music. This all started in 1803 with his Eroica Symphony, but Beethoven did not limit his adventures and his expanding palate to his symphonies. Everything with Beethoven’s music was expanding, including his string quartets. 

These middle quartets form part of the core of most string quartets repertoires. They are astonishing works in every regard, where Beethoven starts pushing limits we didn’t even, or maybe he didn’t even, know he had. From the expansive 59, 1, to the intensely felt and taut 59, 2, to the often fun loving 59, 3, Beethoven explores every facet of string quartet playing and brings that heroic and passionate new style to the genre of the string quartet. For today, we’re going to go through Op. 59, 1, a remarkably expansive and brilliant piece that explores every facet of string quartet playing, pushing quartets to their technical and emotional limits in ways that were absolutely shocking at the time and still unbelievably challenging today. If you come to this show for symphonies, that’s great, but for me and many other musicians, Beethoven’s string quartets are the greatest collection of pieces by any composer in any genre. I hope that today’s exploration will help convince you of that! Join us!