Cover image for The "Galitzin" quartets of Beethoven : opp. 127, 132, 130
The "Galitzin" quartets of Beethoven : opp. 127, 132, 130
Chua, Daniel K. L., 1966-
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Publication Information:
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 1995.
Physical Description:
286 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Introduction -- Motifs, counterpoint, and form: The Quartet in E♭ Major, Op. 127 -- Unity and disunity: The first movement of the Quartet in A minor, Op. 132 -- Rhythm, time, and space: The last four movements of Op. 132 -- Cadences and closure: The middle movements of Op. 130 -- Doubles and parallels: The first movement of Op. 130 and the Grosse Fuge, Op. 133 -- Conclusion.
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MT145.B425 C56 1995 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This study is an analysis of the first three of Beethoven's late quartets, Opp. 127, 132, and 130, commissioned by Prince Nikolai Galitzin. The five late quartets, usually considered as a group, were written in the same period as the Missa solemnis and the Ninth Symphony, and are among the composer's most profound musical statements. Daniel K. L. Chua believes that of the five quartets the three that he studies trace a process of disintegration, whereas the last two, Opp. 131 and 135, reintegrate the language that Beethoven himself had destabilized.

Through analyses that unearth peculiar features characteristic of the surface and of the deeper structures of the music, Chua interprets the "Galitzin" quartets as radical critiques of both music and society, a view first proposed by Theodore Adorno. From this perspective, the quartets necessarily undo the act of analysis as well, forcing the analytical traditions associated with Schenker and Schoenberg to break up into an eclectic mixture of techniques. Analysis itself thus becomes problematic and has to move in a dialectical and paradoxical fashion in order to trace Beethoven's logic of disintegration. The result is a new way of reading these works that not only reflects the preoccupations of the German Romantics of that time and the poststructuralists of today, but also opens a discussion of cultural, political, and philosophical issues.

Originally published in 1995.

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Reviews 1

Choice Review

This book is a critique of the Enlightenment (or perhaps more accurately stated, a critique of musical analysis) masquerading as analysis. Chua (St. John's College, Cambridge) employs an analytical methodology that is a hodgepodge of the theories of Heinrich Schenker, Theodor Adorno, and Rudolph Reti--with a liberal dose of Jacques Derrida thrown in for good measure. The result is a study that offers nothing new but does so in the most convoluted and tendentious way possible. The actual Schenkerian analyses of the quartets are rather good, but the conclusions drawn from these analyses invoke the categories of German transcendental philosophy so often, and are so subjective in nature, that the book at times reads like a 19th-century music appreciation text. Rather than demonstrating the formal "crisis" in the music of the late classical era, this book exemplifies the crisis of logic in the musicology of the 1990s. Interested readers may wish to examine Joseph Kerman's outstanding The Beethoven Quartets (CH, Jul'67). Not recommended. W. E. Grim Worcester State College

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introductiop. 3
Chapter 2 Motifs, Counterpoint, and Form: The Quartet in E6 Major, Op.127p. 11
Chapter 3 Unity and Disunity: The First Movement of the Quartet in A Minor, Op. 132p. 54
Chapter 4 Rhythm, Time, and Space: The Last Four Movements of Op. 132p. 107
Chapter 5 Cadences and Closure: The Middle Movements of Op. 130p. 163
Chapter 6 Doubles and Parallels: The First Movement of Op. 130 and the Grosse Fuge, Op. 133p. 201
Chapter 7 Conclusionp. 245
Notesp. 249
Bibliographyp. 273
Indexp. 283