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A comparative study of performance and interpretation of the late Beethoven string quartets


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Hyland, SJ 1984 , 'A comparative study of performance and interpretation of the late Beethoven string quartets', Coursework Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The expansion of the recording industry has brought with it the
production of multiple recordings of certain works by prominent composers,
which might lead to the conclusion that a great variety of
interpretations of a given work are possible. A study of recorded
performances of the late Beethoven string quartets, covering a period
from the early days of the recording industry to recent times,
suggests however, that interpretations by earlier ensembles show
greater diversity than those of quartets of the last three decades.
The last six string quartets by Beethoven (0p.127 in Eb major,
Op.130 in Bb major, Op.131 in C# minor, Op.132 in A minor, Op.133 in
Bb major and Op.135 in F major) are of particular interest in a study
of interpretation because of their innovative and intricate forms,
which would seem to provide ample opportunity for variety of
interpretation. This study examines four performances of each of these works,
including recordings by nine ensembles. These ensembles are, in
chronological order: Flonzaley Quartet, Busch Quartet, Pascal Quartet;
Budapest Quartet, Hungarian Quartet, Smetana Quartet, Paganini Quartet,
Fine Arts Quartet, and Amadeus Quartet.
The research involved an examination of each recording, taking
into consideration twelve aspects of performance interpretation.
These various aspects fall into four main categories: technical
proficiency, stylistic devices, tempo and interpretation of notation.
The study of technical proficiency deals with standard of intonation,
rhythmic accuracy, and precision of ensemble playing. The
two stylistic devices discussed are vibrato and portamento. The comparison of tempo differences considers the basic tempo of each
section or movement, the range covered by unindicated changes of
tempo and the frequency of their occurrence, the amount of rubato
within a given tempo, and unmarked ritardando or accelerando at the
ends of movements or sections. The study of differences in interpretation
of various notational indications deals specifically with
length of staccato notes, articulation of phrasing slurs, and certain
dynamic markings.
The results of the research reveal that in most of the above mentioned
performance variables, the interpretations by ensembles
from earlier this century show greater diversity, while still
following the composer's instructions in the score, than do those of
quartets of recent decades, indicating a tendency towards standardization
of interpretation.

Item Type: Thesis - Coursework Master
Authors/Creators:Hyland, SJ
Keywords: Beethoven, Ludwig van, 1770-1827, String quartets
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1984 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M. Mus.)--University of Tasmania, 1988. Includes discography and bibliography

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