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The String Quartet in Spain


Christiane Heine and Juan Miguel González Martínez

This is the first monograph from a scientific perspective dealing with the String Quartets composed in Spain from the eighteenth century up to the present. It is the outcome of the research and thorough study of specific works, undertaken by twenty-one musicologists, archivers and performers, together with four Spanish composers. It aims both to offer an overview of the current state of research on the primary and secondary sources available, and to trace the history of the genre by examining its genesis, development and reception in the European context. All this fosters an understanding of: (1) the position of the genre in Spain from its emergence until nowadays, (2) its aesthetics and main compositional features in each period, (3) its idiosyncratic peculiarities, and (4) the particular challenges that it has posed along its history. In addition, other goals are: to banish some prejudices about Spanish chamber music, to contribute to the recuperation of a significant part of the Spanish musical heritage, and to provide scholars and performers with the musical sources, aiming at facilitating the knowledge and diffusion of a corpus of noteworthy yet barely known works.

Der Band befasst sich mit der Entwicklung des Streichquartetts in Spanien vom achtzehnten Jahrhundert bis zur Gegenwart. Er enthält 24 Studien zu Komponisten und konkreten Werken aus unterschiedlicher Perspektive und gibt Auskunft über die bis dato lokalisierten Primär- und Sekundärquellen.

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Haydn, Boccherini and the Rise of the String Quartet in Late Eighteenth-Century Madrid (Miguel Ángel Marín)


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Haydn, Boccherini and the Rise of the String Quartet in Late Eighteenth-Century Madrid1

For their contemporaries, the absolutely central role that both Joseph Haydn and Luigi Boccherini played in the rise and consolidation of the quartet was obvious. But at the same time, music lovers, performers and critics acknowledged the differences in their styles. The list of contemporaries who made comparisons between Haydn and Boccherini is very long, and these comparisons are almost always expressed in antagonistic terms: “light-dark, comic-tragic, male-female, intellect-sensibility, introverted-extraverted”.2 There was a general consensus at the time that each composer represented a different aesthetic world, and music commentators extolled one or the other depending on their training, ideology or simply personal taste. Various Spanish theorists also shared this view. For Tomás de Iriarte and, especially, Antonio Eximeno, Boccherini and Haydn were the best representatives of two different compositional tendencies: “one Italian, with a melodic and pleasant nature and the other German, of a contrapuntal and intricate nature”.3 ← 53 | 54 →

However, historiography has not been completely fair when telling this story. While Haydn has earned a well-deserved central role in the rise of the string quartet, Boccherini has long remained in the shadows, treated as a uncomfortable figure that didn’t quite fit into the established account. This probably has something to do with the fact that Boccherini settled in a peripheral country like Spain. But it certainly has more to...

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