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A Crucible of Friendship: The Transformation of the String Quartet in the late 18th Century

December 13 @ 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

Programme I: Dec. 13  TWO Concerts  4:30 AND 7:30 PM

Haydn “Sunrise”, Op. 76, No. 4 in B flat Major  and  Mozart K. 387 in G major


Please be patient as we wait to see what will be happening with our scheduled concerts (we are keeping our fingers crossed!) Once we know if we can go ahead we will announce the ticket information.



Join the Lafayette String Quartet in a nine-concert series as they explore quartets of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven and show how deeply they were inspired by each other in “A Crucible of Friendship”.


The late 18th Century was a time of enormous turmoil in Europe. Socially, economically and artistically life was changing quickly. So too was the intimate world of the String Quartet. In 1781, Haydn completed his set of Op. 33 quartets. Hearing and playing them, Mozart set about writing a set of six quartets which he dedicated to Haydn (composed between 1782 and 1785). This dedication is a true act of love and friendship. Dedications were generally reserved for the nobility, patrons of artists, not fellow musicians!

Mozart’s dedication shows the depth of feeling he had for his mentor:

A father who had decided to send his sons out into the great world thought it his duty to entrust them to the protection and guidance of a man who was very celebrated at the time, and who happened moreover to be his best friend. In the same way I send my six sons to you … Please, then, receive them kindly and be to them a father, guide, and friend! … I entreat you, however, to be indulgent to those faults which may have escaped a father’s partial eye, and in spite of them, to continue your generous friendship towards one who so highly appreciates it.”

Mozart died, too young, in 1791. He was only 35 years old. Haydn, who was almost 60 by then, kept composing quartets and we can see more and more the influence of Mozart on his compositions. He had such great admiration for his friend, once (famously) saying to Mozart’s father, Leopold: “Before God and as an honest man I tell you that your son is the greatest composer known to me either in person or by name; he has taste, and, furthermore, the most profound knowledge of composition.”

While historians bicker as to whether Mozart and Beethoven ever met, they most surely knew of each other and Mozart had an enormous impact on Beethoven’s writing. In a letter to Abbé Maximilian Stadler Beethoven wrote, ‘I have always counted myself amongst the greatest admirers of Mozart and shall remain so until my last breath’. Beethoven, arguably the finest pianist of his day and confident in his compositional abilities, would have been a teenager if they ever did meet. One quote attributed to Mozart on hearing the young Beethoven is prescient: “Mark that young man, he will make a name for himself in the world.”

In 1799 Haydn wrote a set of six quartets known by their Opus as 76. That same year, Beethoven, who had already been experimenting with the genre, heard the Op. 76 and in a flash of inspiration, composed a set of six string quartets of his own, published as his Op. 18. In these quartets we see the links, overt and indirectly to his two great predecessors.

None of these three sets (Mozart’s “Haydn” Quartets, Haydn’s Op. 76s or Beethoven’s Op. 18s) can be deemed “greater” than the other. They all stretch the four instruments to their limits (for the time) and delve deeper than ever before into emotional intensity and beauty. Mozart’s quartets are, in a word, perfect; each one uniquely qualified to rank as a masterpiece. The same can be said of virtually every quartet written by Haydn (and he wrote 68!)-joyful, heart wrenching, harmonically sophisticated (even bizarre). It is no wonder that Beethoven’s early and later quartets bear the evidence of the fruit so richly cultivated by the creative geniuses that came before him.

Join the Lafayette String Quartet as they explore the great friendship and mentorship between Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven in a nine-concert series starting in December. More information will be posted soon!



December 13
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm
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First Metropolitan Church
932 Balmoral Rd. (at Quadra)
Victoria, British Columbia V8T 1A8 Canada
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