Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
. . .
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
T. S. Eliot
The Four Quartets, Little Gidding
The “late” quartets of Beethoven are also his final compositions. After all the revolutionary piano sonatas, the monumental symphonies including the apotheosis of the 9th, the opera, the Missa solemnis, the brilliant corpus of diverse chamber music and even tentative sketches for a 10th symphony, Beethoven occupied his last few years exclusively with the intimate and exacting genre of the string quartet. With the preceding five quartets Beethoven had already revolutionized this genre as well. Since then, well over a decade had passed including some of the most personally (more…)