String Quartet No. 1 (Beethoven)

The String Quartet No. 1 in F major, Op. 18, No. 1, was written by Ludwig van Beethoven between 1798 and 1800, published in 1801, dedicated to the Bohemian aristocrat Joseph Franz von Lobkowitz. It is actually the second string quartet that Beethoven composed.

String Quartet
No. 1
Early string quartet by Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven, aged twenty-six (1796).jpg
Ludwig van Beethoven, c.1796
KeyF major
OpusOp. 18, No. 1
DedicationJoseph Franz von Lobkowitz

The quartet consists of four movements:

  1. Allegro con brio (F major)
  2. Adagio affettuoso ed appassionato (D minor)
  3. Scherzo: Allegro molto (F major)
  4. Allegro (F major)

According to Beethoven's friend Karl Amenda, the second movement was inspired by the tomb scene from William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The quartet was heavily revised between the version that Amenda first received and the one that was sent to the publisher a year later, including changing the second movement's marking from Adagio molto to the more specific Adagio affettuoso ed appassionato. Of these modifications, Beethoven wrote: "Be sure not to hand on to anybody your quartet, in which I have made some drastic alterations. For only now have I learnt to write quartets; and this you will notice, I fancy, when you receive them."[1]

The theme of the finale is almost directly borrowed from the finale of his earlier string trio, Op. 9, No. 3 in C minor; the themes are very closely related. The principal theme of the first movement echoes that of Mozart's Violin Sonata No. 32 K. 454 (1784) and Haydn's 1787 Opus 50, No. 1 quartet.[2]

The opening bars of the String Quartet No. 1

The "Amenda" manuscript, as it is sometimes known, was edited by Paul Mies and published by Bärenreiter around 1965, and by Henle-Verlag of Munich (perhaps also edited by Mies) in 1962.[3] This early version of one of Beethoven's best-known works has been recorded perhaps less than a half-dozen times as of July 2014.[4]


  1. ^ Winter & Martin 1994, p. 151.
  2. ^ Sutcliffe 1992, p. 67.
  3. ^ See OCLC 803615623, OCLC 59009141.
  4. ^ The first movement by the Juilliard String Quartet in 2008- OCLC 319178284 but before that, the premiere was given by the Pro Arte Quartet on a Laurel Records cassette/long-playing record in 1981 - OCLC 612773288 (with notes by musicologist Lewis Lockwood.) ("Original version" in the title of that record should perhaps be recast as earliest surviving version.) There is another complete recording - listed as Hess 32 - here: OCLC 156914724, played by the Quartetto Paolo Borciani, released 2007; also by the Hagen Quartet on a Deutsche Grammophon set (OCLC 38129193) ;


  • Sutcliffe, W. Dean (1992). Haydn: String Quartets, Op. 50. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521399955.
  • Winter, Robert; Martin, Robert, eds. (1994). The Beethoven Quartet Companion. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-08211-7. (Especially the essay by Michael Steinberg, pp. 150–155.)

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