Beethoven String Quartet in B flat, Op.130
VI: Finale. Allegro
Originally, Beethoven intended the enormous Grosse Fugue, Op.133 to be the finale of this quartet. The Fugue combined elements from each of the previous elements and incorporated them into one formidable movement, over 16 minutes in length and notoriously difficult to play. Where the preceding Cavatina was an emotional giant, the Fugue was a technical tour de force. After it met with little success, the publisher advised Beethoven to write a new finale. Surprisingly, the famously stubborn Beethoven consented and wrote the new finale some time later, while the Grosse Fugue became its own seperate piece as the opus 133.
There is some debate over which is the "proper" finale. Some argue that throughout the other movements, Beethoven creates "loose ends" which are all brought together within the Fugue. Others argue that Beethoven, an artist in every sense, would not have written the new finale had it not fit into his artistic vision of the quartet. This debate has raged over almost two hundred years and does not appear likely to end soon.
In any event the new finale (the one presented here) is a miracle of the human spirit. It is the last piece of music that Beethoven ever wrote, and was conceived as the composer was in the midst of his darkest times; he had gone completely deaf, his friends and family had turned on him, he was poverty-stricken, his nephew had attempted suicide, and he was already feeling the effects of the illness that would soon take his life. Yet through all of this, he managed to create a movement so full of life and exuberance that one would never be able to tell the circumstances under which it was written.
The movement is quite simple to follow and pleasant to hear. It
begins with a bouncy accompaniment in the viola for two measures,
followed by the playful main theme in the violin. This mood
continues throughout the whole movement, which is reminiscent of
youthful days gone by. Three final chords bring an end to this
movement, to the quartet, and to the glorious career of the
greatest quartet composer ever to live.
Hear this Movement
Recorded: in the TJHSST Auditorium on August 6, 1999
Violins: Justin Chen, 1st; Emily Schelstrate, 2nd;
Viola: Sean Hardesty;
Cello: Sarah Poulsen;
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