Concert Preview: The Dover Quartet

Hot off the heels of Emerald City Music's opening night, the Dover Quartet makes their highly anticipated Seattle and Olympia debut. The following blog post features the Quartet, and offers a brief preview of the music you will hear live on October 7 & 8.

The Dover Quartet is one of the most in-demand young ensembles in the world. They rocketed to international fame after sweeping all four prizes at the 2013 International Banff Competition, and have since received awards such as the Cleveland Quartet Prize and the Lincoln Center Emerging Artists Awards.  The press have praised them as the next Guarneri String Quartet (Chicago Tribune) and "The young American String Quartet of the moment" (The New Yorker).

This is an especially exciting performance at Emerald City Music: while the quartet has toured the world to great acclaim, they have yet to make their debut in Washington State. As an added bonus, this performance is the homecoming of cellist Camden Shaw, a Seattle-native who studied with the legendary cellist Toby Saks. Do not miss this thrilling milestone performance in Seattle and Olympia; one we will surely remember for years to come.


About the Music

 The Dover Quartet will perform an all–Beethoven evening, consisting of works of the master composer's early, middle, and late life:

BEETHOVEN – String Quartet op. 18, no. 4 (1798–1800)

At this time: Composed from 1798-1800, this period was when the Republic of Switzerland was formed, the U.S. Navy was created, and Mississippi becomes a U.S. territory. 

Inspiration: This work was published as part of a set of six string quartets, commissioned by the renowned arts patron Prince Joseph Franz Maximilian Lobkowitz. Beethoven had recently studied with Joseph Haydn, nicknamed the "father of the string quartet" for his generous contribution to the repertoire. Being Beethoven's first set of string quartets ever published, a lot of pressure rested on their success. Not surprisingly, Beethoven's six op. 18 quartets are staples in the quartet repertoire, continuing the lineage of Haydn and Mozart.

Fun fact: Beethoven wrote this quartet in the key of C minor, a key that he reserved for his most important and challenging works. Musicologist Charles Rosen writes, "Beethoven in C minor has come to symbolize his artistic character. In every case, it reveals Beethoven as a Hero. C minor does not show Beethoven at his most subtle, but it does give him to us in his most extrovert form, where he seems to be most impatient of any compromise." Another major work in C minor is the Fifth Symphony.

BEETHOVEN – String Quartet op. 59, no. 3 (1806)

At this time: Composed in 1806, this year the Holy Roman Empire ends, and Lewis & Clark visit the Pacific Northwest

Inspiration: Commissioned by Russian Ambassador in Vienna, Count Andreas Kirillovich Razumovsky, the three op. 59 quartets take on a very different character than the op. 18 from only six years prior. Razumovsky was a generous supporter of Beethoven, providing him with a permanent resident string quartet, until a fire destroyed all of Razumovsky's wealth and estate. The barnstorming finale is one of the most important, and difficult, fugues that Beethoven ever wrote (video above). 

Fun fact: After the 1814 palace fire, Tsar Alexander promised to contribute to the reconstruction of the palace. But he never kept his word since he had a strong hatred of Prince Razumovsky, suspecting him of having passively supporting the murder of his father, Tsar Paul. 

BEETHOVEN – String Quartet op. 130 (1825)

At this time: Composed in 1825, this year the first engineering college opens in Troy NY (Rensselaer Polytechnic), John Quincy Adams becomes the 6th U.S. President, the first hotel in Hawaii opens, and the Russian Decembrist uprising begins against Tsar Nicholas I. 

Inspiration: Commissioned by the Russian Prince Galitzin, Beethoven's final three string quartets are both more mature, and more unusual; taking the string quartet genre to new heights. Rather than the traditional four movements, this work has six. The op. 130 begins with a non-traditional slow movement. The finale Grosse Fuge, a gigantic and thorough fugue, is among Beethoven's finest late-period accomplishments.

Fun fact: Beethoven, famously, was entirely deaf by the year 1816, though the ringing in his ears began in late 1897, just before beginning his first six string quartets. 


Get Tickets

Tickets to see the Dover Quartet perform Beethoven are available at


Hear More of the Dover Quartet

Check out these awesome videos of the Dover Quartet: