Saturday, 20 October 2018

Beethoven’s grosse fugue was his baby

AN ensemble aiming to perform all Beethoven’s string quartets is performing part five at Reading Concert Hall next month.

The Elias String Quartet will play four quartets, including number 133, with its original finale Grosse Fugue, a movement which proved to be controversial and was later published separately.

Beethoven sketched at least a dozen possible finale themes before deciding on a gigantic fugue. It became much bigger than originally intended, and after reporting in August that the quartet would be finished in 10 to 12 days, he did not complete it until December. He was immensely proud of the fugue as a work of art, and had even produced a four-hand arrangement for piano. But, written as he was turning deaf, it was not well received by audiences of the day. Characteristically, the great maestro was scornful of their response, calling his critics “asses”.

Formed in 1998 the Elias String Quartet are now firmly established on the concert circuit and have a number of recordings under their belt.

Concert five of the Beethoven Project by the Elias String Quartet takes place on Thursday, February 6 at Reading Concert Hall. For tickets, starting at £14, call 0118 960 6060 or go to

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