Course Code
MUSC 0140
Course Type
Subject Credit
Course Availability

The string quartet enjoys a reputation as the most prominent and prestigious item of chamber music. Much of this is due to the lofty figures who turned their hand to string-quartet composition (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert to name but a few). This course will look at the string quartet’s origins (trio sonata and divertimenti) and its development under Haydn and Mozart. You will then examine why Beethoven is seen as such an important figure. Beethoven’s influence will be examined by looking at his works and how their motivic relationships, tonality and structure dominate the genre. Beethoven’s influence on Schubert will be explored as well as the turn away from the string quartet in the nineteenth century and its resurgence in the twentieth century with figures such as Shostakovich and Bartok. There will also be an option to look at the forgotten female composers of the genre (Fanny Mendelssohn; Ethel Smyth; Elizabeth Lutyens and Gloria Coates amongst others) as well as other largely bypassed items of chamber music, notably the string trio; piano trio and string quintet. This course will enable you to document how the string quartet arrived at its classical four-movement form, how its form and motivic relationships have been transformed throughout its history and how, today, in the 21st century, it still remains an important and sophisticated musical form.