Donald Macleod explores the enduring power, pathos and innovation of Beethoven’s late string quartets with guests Laura Tunbridge and Edward Dusinberre.

Just two years before he died, Beethoven returned to an old treasured form, the string quartet. The five quartets he ended up writing would come to be his final major works, and would change the paradigm beyond recognition. Though dismissed by audiences in their day, their composition is now considered a pivotal moment not only in Beethoven’s life, but in the history of classical music. Donald is joined by musicologist Laura Tunbridge, and violinist Edward Dusinberre of the Takács Quartet, to discuss these extraordinary, watershed works that have bewildered and beguiled listeners ever since their creation. Throughout the week, they focus on each of the five late quartets, uncovering the stories, circumstances and conversations that surround them.

Composer of the Week is returning to the story of Beethoven’s life and music throughout 2020. Part of Radio 3’s Beethoven Unleashed season marking the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth.

Music Featured:
String Quartet No 12 in E flat, Op 127
Symphony No 9 (Finale, part 1)
Bagatelle in E flat, Op 126 No 3
String Quartet in A minor, Op 132
Fidelio, Act I: ‘Abscheulicher, wo eilst du hin?‘
String Quartet in B flat major, Op 130
Piano Sonata in G major, Op 79
Grosse Fuge, Op 133
Piano Sonata No 30, Op 109 (1st movement)
String Quartet in C sharp minor, Op 131
Lob auf der Dicken, WoO 100
Falstafferel, WoO 184
String Quartet in F major, Op 135
Coriolan Overture, Op 62

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Amelia Parker for BBC Wales

For full tracklistings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Beethoven Unleashed: Return to Form

And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: