Here are our ten favorite composers of works for two violins, viola and cello:

  • 10. LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
  • Oh yes, the Sixteen Quartets and the Grosse Fuge are ever dependable; not a day goes by where we don't spend our evenings with the ferocious Ludwig!
  • 9. LUIGI BOCCHERINI
  • This guy wrote 102 string quartets --- and the vast majority of them are rarely programmed in concert! To us, that's a shame --- because anyone who can write 102 string quartets deserves our respect and admiration!
  • 8. JOHANNES BRAHMS
  • He may have composed just three string quartets, at least two of which he wrote for his pal Joseph Joachim (and which the Joachim Quartet promptly premiered), but he's on our list because when we don't have much to program for the audience, we Longbeards'll just do an all-Brahms evening! (String quartet groups get bored, too, y'know!)
  • 7. WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART
  • Nobody wrote quartets the way Amadeus did --- 23 of them, to be exact! And Eine Kleine Nachtmusik has always sounded pretty when played by a string quartet! That, and his equally delicious library of Divertimenti --- what else is there to say? Bravissima!
  • 6. BELA BARTOK
  • Bartok's six quartets are challenging for both players and listeners. We remember well how the Emerson Quartet took all of them on in a marathon recital! What a journey that experience was!
  • 5. ANDRE ERNEST MODESTE GRETRY
  • Gretry's six string quartets are all in three movements. They're each very short, and quite fun to play. When Gretry wrote in his Autobiography about how he had prayed to die unless God could make him both an upright man and a good musician, he was undoubtedly determined to live up to both those wishes however possible. We, of course, think he succeeded beyond his wildest aspirations.
  • 4. CLAUDE DEBUSSY
  • Dare you count on your fingers the number of times the Debussy and Ravel quartets have been recorded together on compact disc? We couldn't, but the Quartet in G Minor, Op. 10 has been a longtime staple on our list of favorites through the years.
  • 3. FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN
  • We Longbeards have long fantasized about an all-Haydn cable television network, where all of his 83 quartets air 24/7/365. Now, is that a marathon recital, or what?
  • 2. DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH
  • Shostakovich wrote 15 quartets, the last five of which were written even as he knew he was about to die. Only a really daring quartet ensemble can play Shostakovich; in fact, we strongly urge that Quartet No. 15 should be performed only in candlelight, with the four candles to be blown out immediately at the end.
  • 1. FRANZ PETER SCHUBERT
  • OK, Schubert wrote 15 quartets, too --- but he's #1 on our list because not only is 'Death and the Maiden' one of our all-time favorites, not only is his Fifteenth Quartet blessed with a rollickingly merry finale --- Franz has an advantage over his fellow composers thanks to his two older brothers and their father, with whom young Franz often played when he wasn't composing. What a quartet the four Schuberts made: Ferdinand and Ignatius, violins; Franz Jr., viola; and Franz Sr., cello! And what a thrill it must have been hearing them jam!
  • And here are the ten string quartet works we especially like to play. As a matter of fact, these ten works have become the most requested pieces in our entire repertoire:

  • 10. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: String Quartet No. 21 in D Major, K. 575
  • I. Allegretto.
  • II. Andante.
  • III. Menuetto: Allegretto.
  • IV. Allegretto.
  • 9. Giuseppe Verdi: String Quartet in E Minor
  • I. Allegro.
  • II. Andantino.
  • III. Prestissimo.
  • IV. Scherzo Fuga: Allegro assai mosso.
  • 8. Franz Joseph Haydn: String Quartet in D Major, Opus 64, No. 5 --- "The Lark"
  • I. Allegro moderato.
  • II. Adagio cantabile.
  • III. Menuetto: Allegretto.
  • Finale: Vivace.
  • 7. Franz Peter Schubert: String Quartet in D Minor, D. 810 --- "Death and the Maiden"
  • I. Allegro.
  • II. Andante con moto.
  • III. Scherzo: Allegro molto.
  • IV. Presto.
  • 6. Claude Debussy: String Quartet in G Minor, Opus 10
  • I. Anime et tres decide.
  • II. Assez vif et bien rythme.
  • III. Andantion; doucement expressif.
  • IV. Tres modere; tres mouvemente.
  • 5. Johannes Brahms: String Quartet in C Minor, Opus 21, No. 1
  • I. Allegro.
  • II. Romanze: Poco adagio.
  • III. Allegretto molto moderato e comodo.
  • IV. Allegro.
  • 4. Bedrich Smetana: String Quartet in E Minor --- "From My Life"
  • I. Allegro viva appassionato.
  • II. Allegro moderato a la Polka.
  • III. Largo sostenuto.
  • IV. Vivace.
  • 3. Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet in B-Flat Major, Opus 18, No. 6 --- "La Malinconia"
  • I. Allegro con brio.
  • II. Adagio, ma non troppo.
  • III. Scherzo: Allegro.
  • IV. Finale: Adagio; Allegretto quasi allegro.
  • 2. Antonin Dvorak: String Quartet in F Major, Opus 96 --- "The American"
  • I. Allegro ma non troppo.
  • II. Lento.
  • III. Molto vivace.
  • IV. Finale: Vivace ma non troppo.
  • 1. Alexander Borodin: String Quartet No. 2 in D Major
  • I. Allegro moderato.
  • II. Scherzo: Allegro.
  • III. Notturno: Andante.
  • IV. Finale: Andante; Vivace.
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