Oslo harmoni kvartett og et orkester under sin dirigent musikkorporal egil monn iversen egil monn-ive

3 The world at large was almost certainly playing its part too. The year 1809 began well, with the promise of an annual income from Prince Lobkowitz, the Archduke Rudoph and Prince Kinsky, which prevented Beethoven from accepting a post elsewhere. His new found economic stability prompted him to propose marriage to his beloved, who we believe to be the singer Therese Malfatti. We know that her rejection came as a terrible blow. In May of the same year, Napoleon invaded Vienna again and laid siege to the city for five months. Beethoven was prevented from taking his normal summer holiday in the country, and life was particularly cumbersome. He felt particularly lonely as most of his friends had managed to leave the city. In the light of such troubling times, the inspirational Harp Quartet is truly remarkable. Ones only lingering doubt is whether Beethoven would have created a more powerful and uplifting last movement, if life in general had been more normal. There are many new compositional aspects in the Harp quartet. The slow, second movement is crucial in Beethoven s compositional development. What makes the quartet instantly recognisable, and what gave it its nickname, is the use of pizzicato in the first movement. Haydn and Mozart had only used pizzicato in a very reticent way, and indeed Beethoven had also limited his earlier use of pizzicato to unimportant parts of the musical material, for example in the bass line of the slow movements of the first and third Razumovky quartets. But in Opus 74, the use of pizzicato is an integral part of the thematic material, a new element in the palette of the string instrument, used in all four voices. In the first movement s coda, the pizzicato in the three lower strings creates a foundation upon which the first violin erupts in the longest, most virtuosic and ecstatic solo cadenza of all of Beethoven s quartets. Beethoven gives the first movement a slow introduction, as he did in the last of the Opus 59 quartets. The similarities end there. Opus 59 contains much conflicting material which doesn t always resolve, whereas the Harp quartet s first movement shows us a composer in complete harmony with himself. It is astonishing that there is hardly a shadow in the first movement, considering the external circumstances. This is pure music. Music for music s sake, without heros and villains. His Opus 59 quartets are symphonic in form, while in Opus 74, Beethoven has found a new musical form which fits the medium of chamber music. It is a display of compositional mastery; the first movement could hardly have been written for any other formation. The second movement, Adagio ma non troppo, has a long and spun out melody which, interrupted by two short episodes, is simply repeated twice in ever richer versions. What is remarkable is that Beethoven has moved from thematic development in sonata form to thematic development in variation form, an invention which clearly caused the composer a lot of trouble. The melody came quickly, but his sketches show that he worked through ten versions of the movement before he was satisfied. The result was one of his most beautiful movements, with a feeling of continual melody which is typical of the late quartets. This is music of the future, containing ideas which many composers, not least Wagner, took further. The movement is in A flat major, with E flat major as the subdominant, and in the main theme s minor section we feel for the first time the sadness Beethoven must have experienced on marital rejection. While the slow movement s underlying feeling is melancholic, in the third movement, Presto, Beethoven gives vent to passionate anger with music so full of energy and temperament that only his Fifth Symphony contains anything comparable. The composer is back to his heroic self. The Trio doesn t exactly offer a calm respite, but rather a sense of approaching victory in an exuberant outburst of C major. In the long Coda with all its repetitions, it s almost as if Beethoven is convincing himself that he can overcome depression and, with an effort, move on. The movement has many similarities with the Fifth Symphony s Scherzo; they share the tonality of C minor, an obsinate and driving rhythm, and not least the mystical downward spiral of the closing music before a final dominant sevnth chord leads directly into the Finale. Ones expectation for a celebratory final movement, as in the Fifth Symphony, is not fulfilled. Instead, Beethoven offers a surprisingly uncomplicated, but refined, variation movement, Allegretto con Variazioni. The theme is extremely simple, but confuses the listener elegantly and playfully by emphasising weak beats of the bar. Musically speaking, the movement brings us back to the objectivity and purity of the first movement. Through six variations, all in the movement s home key and more or less in the movement s main tempo, Beethoven gives us a rare relaxed and playful finale to his tenth quartet. As a whole, the Harp Quartet is perhaps a momentary relief from the middle period s fascination with life s big issues, or perhaps a turning point towards his final period, when the heroic is overtaken by the philosphical. Arne Nordheim ( ) is recognised as one of Norway s greatest composers. He lived in the Grotto, an impressive residence granted to a chosen Norwegian artist, situated in the Royal Palace grounds. Apart from Edward Grieg, he is one of the best known Norwegian composers. He was closely involved in cultural politics and was an industrious writer. But it was many years before he gained recognition, and Nordheimmusic was for many almost an expletive used to describe modern music! For a long period after Grieg and

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