A Reader's Guide to Haydn's Early String Quartets

Overview

The six string quartets comprising Joseph Haydn's Opus 20 (composed in 1772) are the first works in the genre to have received consistent critical attention from writers on music. The twenty-two quartets Haydn wrote before this date, though rarely discussed by historians and theorists and seldom performed in public, are nevertheless fundamental to the development of the quartet and thus inseparable from Opus 20 itself. This thoughtful discussion provides a basis upon which to study the quartet by showing how the ...

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Overview

The six string quartets comprising Joseph Haydn's Opus 20 (composed in 1772) are the first works in the genre to have received consistent critical attention from writers on music. The twenty-two quartets Haydn wrote before this date, though rarely discussed by historians and theorists and seldom performed in public, are nevertheless fundamental to the development of the quartet and thus inseparable from Opus 20 itself. This thoughtful discussion provides a basis upon which to study the quartet by showing how the relationship among the four players can best be understood as a musical dialogue. A methodology is developed for analyzing these quartets by focusing on the characteristics of string instruments that inform not only the style of the music, but also the materials of the composition. The changing relationships among the instruments reveal the level of sophistication evident in Haydn's early works and attest to the affinity these works have with his later masterpieces. Music scholars and educators will appreciate the generous musical examples and clear prose that explains the more detailed analysis of the Opus 20 set.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Drabkin provides insightful observations about Haydn's early quartets….[Recommended] for music collections at all levels.

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Choice

[t]here is surely no more acute, and bracing, consideration of the textual dynamic of these works.

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Music & Letters

This book provides a basis upon which to study quartets by showing how the relationship between the four musicians can best be thought of as a musical dialogue.

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Chamber Music

Booknews
A study of Haydn's Opus 20 string quartets in the context of his earlier work. Drabkin (U. of Southampton) attempts to steer clear of the debates over the point at which good or great Haydn begins and how his oevre is best divided into creative periods. He leads from a discussion of string quartet texture and technique exemplified by Opuses 1, 2, 9, and 17, to a more detailed look at each of the six quartets of Opus 20. He starts each chapter with remarks on musical form and proceeds to a detailed analysis of texture and other techniques. He concludes by considering ways in which the four movements of a quartet are bound together, as well as exploring how Opus 20 as a whole may be thought of as an artistic unit. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

WILLIAM DRABKIN is Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Southampton in England.

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Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction

Anatomy of the Quartet

Fugue

Quartet in F Minor, Op. 20, No. 5

Quartet in A Major, Op. 20, No. 6

Quartet in C Major, Op. 20, No. 2

Quartet in G Minor, Op. 20, No. 3

Quartet in D Major, Op. 20, No. 4

Quartet in E flat Major, Op. 20, No. 1

Epilogue

Bibliography

Index

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