String Quartet No. 13 (Beethoven)
|String Quartet No. 13|
|by Ludwig van Beethoven|
Coversheet of Beethoven's Op. 130 as published in Berlin on June 2nd, 1827
|Duration||About 50 minutes|
The String Quartet No. 13 in B♭ major, Op. 130, by Ludwig van Beethoven was completed in November 1825. The number traditionally assigned to it is based on the order of its publication; it is actually Beethoven's 14th quartet in order of composition. It was premiered in March 1826 by the Schuppanzigh Quartet and dedicated to Nikolai Galitzin on its publication in 1827.
Its original form consisted of six movements totaling approximately 50 minutes, as follows:
- Adagio, ma non troppo – Allegro (B♭ major)
- Presto (B♭ minor)
- Andante con moto, ma non troppo. Poco scherzoso (D♭ major)
- Alla danza tedesca. Allegro assai (G major)
- Cavatina. Adagio molto espressivo (E♭ major)
- Große Fuge (Grande Fugue Op.133): Ouverture. Allegro – Meno mosso e moderato – Allegretto – Fuga. [Allegro] – Meno mosso e moderato – Allegro molto e con brio – Allegro (B♭)
(Nomenclature: "danza tedesca" means "German dance", "Cavatina" a short and simple song, and "Große Fuge" means "Great Fugue" or "Grand Fugue".)
The work is unusual among quartets in having six movements. They follow the pattern of movements seen in the Ninth Symphony and occasionally elsewhere in Beethoven's work (opening, dance movement, slow movement, finale), except that the middle part of the cycle is repeated: opening, dance movement, slow movement, dance movement, slow movement, finale.
After the work's first performance, mixed reactions and his publisher's suggestion convinced Beethoven to substitute a different final movement, one much shorter and lighter than the enormous Große Fuge. This new finale was written between September and November 1826—and is thus the last substantial piece of composition Beethoven completed before his death. This movement is marked:
- Finale: Allegro in B♭ major
Beethoven never witnessed a performance of the quartet in its final form; it was premiered on 22 April, 1827, almost a month after his death.
The original finale was published separately under the title Große Fuge as opus 133. Modern performances sometimes follow the composer's original intentions, leaving out the substitute finale and concluding with the fugue. Robert Simpson argues that Beethoven's intentions are best served by playing the quartet as a seven-movement work, with the Große Fuge followed by the replacement finale.
The Cavatina (performed by the Budapest String Quartet) is the final piece on the Voyager Golden Record, a phonograph record containing a broad sample of Earth's sounds, languages, and music sent into outer space in 1977 with the two unmanned Voyager probes. It immediately follows after the gospel blues song "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" by Blind Willie Johnson, a blind and a deaf musician side by side. Voyager 1 entered interstellar space in 2012; Voyager 2 is expected to do so around 2019 or 2020.
The Cavatina also appears in "Love and War", an episode from the sixth season of M*A*S*H, in the background as Hawkeye has dinner with an aristocratic Korean woman.
- Kahn, Robert (2010). Beethoven and the Grosse Fuge: Music, Meaning, and Beethoven's Most Difficult Work. Scarecrow Press. p. 3-6. ISBN 1461664055. Retrieved 16 September 2017.