Beethoven Quartet Society

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The Beethoven Quartet Society was a musical society established in 1845 in London, England dedicated to the String quartets of Ludwig van Beethoven.

The society was established by Thomas Massa Alsager (1779–1846). Its establishment was encouraged by Alsager's "Queen Square Select Society" and John Ella's Musical Union.[1] The Beethoven Quartet Society was based at the Beethoven Rooms at 76 Harley Street, London. Concerts were given under the title "Honour to Beethoven", and included works by other composers. One of its express aims was to study the late quartets from score. After Alsager's death in 1846 French cellist Scipion Rousselot directed the society.[2] Violist Henry Hill (1837–1856) undertook writing the programme notes.

The society were the first to present a performance of the complete cycle of the Beethoven string quartets, running from April 21, 1845 and June 16, 1845, with Camillo Sivori, Prosper Sainton, Henry Hill and Scipion Rousselot.

Other musicians, who played at the society's concerts, include Joseph Joachim, Henryk Wieniawski (both as violinist and violist), Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst, Alfredo Piatti, Louis Ries, William Sterndale Bennett and Ludwig Strauss.

One particular line-up during the 1850s was noted by Joachim's biographer Andreas Moser with Joachim and Ernst playing the violin, Wieniawski the viola, and Piatti the cello. This, however, is highly unlikely since Wieniawski first visited England in 1859 and Ernst's last stay dates from 1858 or even 1856.[3]

Hector Berlioz attended at least one of the society's concerts at the "New Beethoven Room" (at the building at 27 Queen Anne Street, where Berlioz lived) and this made enough of an impression to mention it in his book Evenings with the Orchestra.[2][4]


  1. ^ Taylor, Philip (14 June 2007). Anton Rubinstein: A Life in Music. Indiana University Press. p. 70. ISBN 9780253116758.
  2. ^ a b Berlioz, Les Soirées de l’orchestre
  3. ^ Rowe, Mark W. (2008). Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst. Virtuoso Violinist. Aldershot: Ashgate. p. 226f. ISBN 978-0-7546-6340-9.
  4. ^ Mahaim, The First Complete Beethoven Quartet Cycles, 1845-1851: Historical Notes on the London Quartett Society


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