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REVOLUTIONAIRS

J. Haydn – String quartet in G major, op.74/3 ‘Rider’

D. Shostakovich – String quartet nr.5 in B-flat major, op.92

F. Schubert – String quartet in a minor, D804 ‘Rosamunde’

Joseph Haydn is considered the founding father of the string quartet. He revolutionized the string quartet, removing it from the shadows of domestic performances and turning it into the ‘summit’ of composing: a genre where composers show the essence of their identity. Haydn’s Op. 74 is the first set of string quartets composed with performance in public concert halls in mind. 

Dmitri Shostakovich started composing string quartets in a late stage of his career, having built a reputation mainly with his symphonies. His string quartets are not as revolutionary as Bartóks or Schönbergs, but nonetheless Shostakovich did write revolutionary quartet music. His fifth string quartet, a masterpiece from 1952, was premiered after Stalin’s death, due to the revolutionary character of the piece. 

Franz Schubert was the ‘king of the Lied’ and influenced the string quartet genre in a unique way. Inspired by Beethoven’s work, he added new, personal characteristics to the repertoire in his late string quartets, referring to his large oeuvre of Lieder. The ‘Rosamunde’ string quartet contains stunning song-like melodies, of a kind that only Schubert has been able to compose.