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Beethoven String Quartet Cycle
Six Concerts in Rackham Auditorium
“They are not for you, but for a later age!” So wrote Ludwig van Beethoven about his Op. 59 quartets, which will be performed in Ann Arbor this season as part of a complete Beethoven string quartet cycle by the Takács Quartet over six concerts (three weekends) in the 16-17 season. Composed against the turbulent backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars and their aftermath, this radical music is as invigorating now as it was for its first performers and audiences.
The Beethoven cycle has only been performed in its entirety during the course of a single season by two ensembles in UMS’s 137-year history: the Budapest String Quartet performed all 16 quartets plus the Grosse Fuge over the course of an intense five days in 1965, and the Guarneri String Quartet performed it over the course of six concerts in the 1976-77 season. During this season, the Takács will perform the complete cycle in only four venues worldwide, coinciding with the release of a book by Takács first violinist Edward Dusinberre, Beethoven for a Later Age: The Journey of a String Quartet. The book explores the inner life of a string quartet, melding music history and memoir as it explores the circumstances surrounding the composition of Beethoven’s quartets.