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The Beethoven Quartet Companion [Paperback]

Robert Winter
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: 21.95
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Book Description

21 Mar 1996
While the Beethoven string quartets are to chamber music what the plays of Shakespeare are to drama, even seasoned concertgoers will welcome guidance with these personal and sometimes enigmatic works. This collection offers Beethoven lovers both detailed notes on the listening experience of each quartet and a stimulating range of more general perspectives: Who has the quartets' audience been? How were the quartets performed before the era of sound recordings? What is the relationship between 'classical' and 'romantic' in the quartets? How was their reception affected by social and economic history? What sorts of interpretive decisions are made by performers today? The companion brings together a matchless group of Beethoven experts. Joseph Kerman is perhaps the world's most renowned Beethoven scholar. Robert Winter, an authority on sketches for the late quartets, has created interactive programs regarded as milestones in multimedia publishing. Maynard Solomon has written an acclaimed biography of Beethoven. Leon Botstein is the conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra as well as a distinguished social historian and college president. Robert Martin writes from his experience as cellist of the "Sequoia Quartet". And the book is anchored by the program notes of Michael Steinberg, who has served as Artistic Advisor of the San Francisco Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; New Ed edition (21 Mar 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520204204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520204201
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.2 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 104,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

Robert Winter is Professor of Music at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is author of Music for Our Time (1992) and co-author of The Beethoven Sketchbooks (California, 1985). Robert Martin is Assistant Dean of Humanities and Adjunct Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Most of us have known about Beethoven's "three periods" for about as long as we have known Fur Elise and the Minuet in G. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for Beethoven Lovers 17 July 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book should have been called simply "The Beethoven Companion." While it focues on the string quartets, it deals with many facets of the composer's life, and life in Vienna in general at the time. Detailed but never dull, thorough but never too technical, the book describes performance practice, takes you into the minds of interpretors, and deals with such fascinating philosophical considerations as Romanticism vs. Classicism, the meaning of the "last period," and audiences in Beethoven's time. I have many books on the Quartets, but I've never read another that is this valuable.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A helpful guide 10 May 2009
By medicus
Format:Paperback
This book is aimed at anyone interested in Beethoven and his music, of whom his quartets stand at the core. The late numbers benefit most from a friendly guiding hand which this book provide. The analysis of the individual string quartets get from quite short and sketchy for op 18 to lengthier chapters for the last numbers. Overall they are quite thorough and to the point. The introductory chapters put the quartets in the perspective of Beethoven's aesthetical development, the quartets' reception over the 19th century, and problems of performance. They are useful and clearly written. A historical discography clearly is missing. A future edition would benefit from comments on major landmarks of the quartets' interpretation on record (lets say from Rosé and Capet to the Alban Berg string quartet).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars insight into some significant music 9 Mar 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Historical and social background to some of the most important and difficult music ever written. The author is a practising musician of high calibre. It will take me a long time to work through the individual analyses of the pieces. A specialised book but very interesting
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for LVB lovers, and not *just* LVB quartet lovers 17 July 1998
By The Man in the Hathaway Shirt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book should have been called simply "The Beethoven Companion." While it focues on the string quartets, it deals with many facets of the composer's life, and with life in Vienna at the time. Detailed but never dull, thorough but never technical, the book describes performance practice, takes you into the minds of interpretors, and deals with such fascinating philosophical considerations as Romanticism vs. Classicism, the meaning of the so-called "last period," and audience expectations in Beethoven's time. Essays by Beethoven scholars are thought-provoking. I know a fair amount about Ludwig, but time and again I found myself learning new things, or reconsidering old wisdom. I have many books on the Quartets, and on Beethoven in general. This one ranks among the very top of the heap.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb discussions on Beethoven's String Quartets 19 Aug 2008
By Nona - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book consists of a collection of essays about topics relevant to Beethoven's work on his sixteen string quartets, as well as a quartet-by-quartet analysis, much like you would see in program notes (only more thorough). The essay writers approach the quartets from several different angles: some write as musical performers while others as professional musicologists, but all are of excellent quality and give you insight into a particular aspect of Beethoven and his music.

Another great characteristic of this book is its accessibility. Even though it would help to know how to read music, that is more or less the extent of the technical knowledge you need to enjoy this book. Because Beethoven's string quartets form a central part of his musical output, understanding these pieces is crucial to understanding his musical career (similarly for his piano sonatas and symphonies), and this book provides an excellent starting point for learning about the string quartets in-depth. After reading the enclosed essays, you'll want to listen to his quartets again (or anew!), with this book as your guide.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Despite appearances, this deserves to be included with the set of Michael Steinberg program books 9 Oct 2006
By David R. Moran - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It is nowhere preconized that the core of this fine book (half its pages, in fact) is extensive notes on the pieces themselves by the late gold-standard musicologist and annotator Michael Steinberg. While there is much fascinating historical and contextual material by the editors and others, anyone who has enjoyed and learned from Steinberg's famous series the Symphony, the Concerto, and Choral Masterworks should know that this is effectively a fourth volume of his superb notes.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for amateurs 27 April 2010
By Geoff Puterbaugh - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really can't figure out how many stars to give this book, because I think it depends on your musical expertise. For strong amateurs and professionals, it's apparently a 5-star book. It was way too advanced for me: I tried to read a few pages and just gave up.

This book is a lot tougher than the usual liner notes which come with classical music.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Useful - True Companion 17 July 2013
By D. J. Leedham - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The initial motivation was to get Michael Steinberg's Notes On The Quartets. First thing I looked at was his Glossary, which is very useful for non musicians. I loved his circle of fifths diagram, but wish he'd added one for key signatures. -- Kerman's opening essay provides an interesting way of looking at the three stages of Beethoven's quartet output. (Early to late) The most interesting essay is Solomon's take on the old "Was Beethoven a classical or a romantic composer?" I've always thought the distinction made no difference and that Beethoven was a sui generis. Not to be put in any box. And that those who do so have some agenda. Solomon makes a similar argument but with a much more substantive scholarship and perspective. Very nice! The other articles offer interesting perspectives on the life and times in which the quartets first saw light and Martin's run-through of what a quartet's members do to prepare for the performance. All interesting. -- I've listened to these quartet's since my first mono vinyl of the Amadeus Quartet back in the 60's. And have managed to get along without any such background reading. But now I have the leisure it is nice to broaden the context and experience. Steinberg's analyis is very useful, though, in the end I found myself going on line and printing scores for movements I wanted to look at more closely and then dig out Tovey and other sources for more detail. But that's not to slight Steinberg's discussions, which are very useful. - Certainly recommended for detail and context which can only enhance your listening experience.
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