String Quartets in Beethoven’s Europe

Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th May, 2020

University of Auckland School of Music, Auckland, New Zealand

Proposal submission deadline: Monday 30th September, 2019

Call for Papers

In 1793 Heinrich Christoph Koch observed that the string quartet was the ‘darling of small musical establishments’; nine years later Beethoven described his era as ‘a fruitful age of arrangements’. Yet today the only music we regularly hear, perform and study from this rich repertoire of chamber music ca. 1800 are original string quartets by a handful of canonic composers. What was ‘fruitful’ about the arrangement? Why were string quartets so popular? Whose quartets were played, where, and by whom? When it was published, this chamber music circulated in a format designed for performance, not study (i.e. it was published as performance parts, not in score). This music did not enter readily into the channels of musical canon formation that opened up in the public sphere of concert life, review culture, and music scholarship in the early nineteenth century.

The symposium aims to bring together scholars, editors and practitioners exploring some of the following topics:

1. Quartets composed for the amateur market in Beethoven’s Europe

2. Quartets composed for the connoisseur in Beethoven’s Europe

3. Virtuosity, the French School and the Quatuor Brillant

4. The relationship between quartet composers and their audiences during Beethoven’s era

5. The cross-pollination of quartet styles in Europe’s musical centres such as Vienna, Paris and London

6. String quartets and their publishers in the early nineteenth century

Proposals for individual papers and lecture-recitals (20 minutes + 10 minutes for discussion) are invited. We would particularly welcome papers that include elements of performance, as well as contributions from postgraduate students. Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words and a short biography (approx. 150 words) to Sam Girling as an email attachment (

Notification of acceptance will be sent by the end of October 2019.

Organising committee:

Associate Professor Nancy November (chair)

Professor W. Dean Sutcliffe

Associate Professor Allan Badley

Dr Sam Girling