Beethoven String Quartets (notes on animated graphical scores)

I made my first graphical scores in the 1970s, the first animated graphical score in 1985, and the first animation of a movement of a Beethoven string quartet in 2010.

Hopefully, animated graphical scores for all Beethoven's string quartets will be finished by 2020 (in time for the 250th anniversary of his birth).

The videos will be added to this YouTube playlist as they are completed.

The following notes will mostly be about the design of my animations of these pieces, but may also include comments about the music and other related things I've found interesting.


Index

Quartet No. 1 in F Major, Op. 18, No. 1
Quartet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 18, No. 2
Quartet No. 3 in D Major, Op. 18, No. 3
Quartet No. 4 in C Minor, Op. 18, No. 4
Quartet No. 5 in A Major, Op. 18, No. 5
Quartet No. 6 in B-flat Major, Op. 18, No. 6

Quartet No. 7 in F Major, Op. 59, No. 1
Quartet No. 8 in E Minor, Op. 59, No. 2
Quartet No. 9 in C Major, Op. 59, No. 3
Quartet No. 10 in E-flat Major, Op. 74
Quartet No. 11 in F Minor, Op. 95

Quartet No. 12 in E-flat Major, Op. 127
Quartet No. 13 in B-flat Major, Op. 130
Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 131
Quartet No. 15 in A Minor, Op. 132
Quartet No. 16 in F Major, Op. 135
Große Fuge in B-flat Major, Op. 133

Quartet No. 1 in F Major, Op. 18, No. 1

1.
Allegro con brio.  The meaning of the backwards-moving notes in this movement might not be obvious, so let me explain it. I began by identifying the notes of the first measure (the five-note turn) as the seed, with the "play" of the movement coming from the variety of things that sprout from it—sometimes it goes up, sometimes down, sometimes repeats, etc. Second, there are the things that contrast with the seed (either as accompaniment to it or a contrast to it). Once I'd sorted the notes according to the categories I'd established, there were these notes that were very similar to the first seed, but which (in many cases) ended with a long note instead of starting with one. I don't know whether it's how Beethoven thought about it, but it seemed like he wanted something that was like the seed, but different enough to not seem like a repetition, and decided to use a sort of retrograde of the rhythm. Once I hit on the "backward" idea, depicting it mirrored seemed like the natural way to make it look both more like the seed and very clearly different from it. It also gave it a sort of "wandering around lost" (like walking the wrong direction on an escalator) feeling that I liked. It's kind of a silly idea, and there's a certain arbitrariness to it. In the early versions of the animation, I used this effect a lot more, but it started seeming too silly even to me, so I toned it down.
   Since some of the playfulness of this movement comes from the surprises in where the seed leads, I sometimes hid the note(s) right after it to keep the viewer guessing. I did this most often when those notes are louder and more surprising, so I ended up using the "loud/surprise=hidden" meme elsewhere in the piece.

2. Adagio affettuoso ed appassionato.
3. SCHERZO. Allegro molto.
4. Allegro.

Quartet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 18, No. 2

1.
Allegro.
2. Adagio cantabile. Allegro. Tempo I.
3. Scherzo Allegro. Trio.
4. Allegro molto quasi Presto.

Quartet No. 3 in D Major, Op. 18, No. 3

1.
Allegro.
2. Andante con moto.
3. Allegro.
4. Presto.

Quartet No. 4 in C Minor, Op. 18, No. 4

1.
Allegro ma non tanto.
2. SCHERZO. Andante scherzoso quasi Allegretto.
3. MENUETTO. Allegretto.
4. Allegro.

Quartet No. 5 in A Major, Op. 18, No. 5

1.
Allegro.
2. MENUETTO.
3. Andante cantabile.
4. Allegro.

Quartet No. 6 in B-flat Major, Op. 18, No. 6

1.
Allegro con brio.
2. Adagio ma non troppo.
3. SCHERZO. Allegro.
4. Allegretto quasi Allegro.

Quartet No. 7 in F Major, Op. 59, No. 1

1.
Allegro.
2. Allegretto vivace e sempre scherzando.
3. Adagio molto e mesto.
4. Thème russe. Allegro.


Quartet No. 8 in E Minor, Op. 59, No. 2

1. Allegro.
2. Molto adagio.
3. Allegretto.
4. Finale. Presto.

Quartet No. 9 in C Major, Op. 59, No. 3

1.
Introduzione. Andante con moto. Allegro vivace.
2. Andante con moto quasi Allegretto.
3. Menuetto. Grazioso.
4. Allegro molto.

Quartet No. 10 in E-flat Major, Op. 74

1.
Poco adagio. Allegro
2. Adagio ma non troppo.
3. Presto.
4. Allegretto con Variazioni.

Quartet No. 11 in F Minor, Op. 95

1.
Allegro con brio.
2. Allegretto ma non troppo.
3. Allegro assai vivaco ma serioso.
4. Larghetto espressivo. Allegretto agitato. Allegro.

Quartet No. 12 in E-flat Major, Op. 127

1.
Maestoso. Allegro. Maestoso. Allegro. Maestoso. Allegro.
2. Adagio, ma non troppo e molto cantabile.
3. Scherzando vivace.
4. Finale. Allegro con moto.

Quartet No. 13 in B-flat Major, Op. 130

1.
Adagio ma non troppo.
2. Presto.
3. Andante con moto ma non troppo.
4. Alla danza tedesca. Allegro assai.
5. Cavatina. Adagio molto espressivo.
6. Finale. Allegro.

Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 131

1.
Adagio ma non troppo e molto espressivo. 2. Allegro molto vivace. 3. Allegro moderato. 4. Andante ma non troppo e molto cantabile. Più mosso. Andante moderato e lusinghiero. Adagio. Allegretto. Adagio ma non troppo e semplice. Allegretto. 5. Presto. 6. Adagio quasi un poco andante. 7. Allegro.

Quartet No. 15 in A Minor, Op. 132

1.
Assai sostenuto. Allegro. Adagio. Allegro. Adagio. Allegro.
2. Allegro ma non tanto.
3. Heiliger Dankgesang. Molto adagio. Andante. Molto adagio. Andante. Molto adagio.
4. Alla Marcia, assai vivace. Più allegro. 5. Allegro appassionato.

Quartet No. 16 in F Major, Op. 135

1.
Allegretto.
2. Vivace
3. Lento assai, cantante e tranquillo.
4. Grave. Grave ma non troppo. Adagio. Allegro. Grave ma non troppo tratto. Allegro.

Große Fuge in B-flat Major, Op. 133

Allegro. Meno mosso e moderato. Allegro. Fuga. Meno mosso e moderato. Allegro molto e con brio. Meno mosso e moderato. Allegro molto e con brio. Meno mosso e moderato. Allegro molto e con brio.