Of all the countless composers who have walked the earth over the centuries, Beethoven had perhaps the most unique ability to capture something about the essence of what it is to be human in his music. And his music reflected everything – from the pain, to the joy, from the longing, to the satisfaction.
The third movement of Beethoven’s 15th string quartet is a wonderful example of this quality of his music. Beethoven wrote this movement after recovering from an illness which he feared would claim his life. In this movement, the listener can find both the sorrowful spirit of one who has resigned themselves to death, and later the jubilant spirit of one who has found that they shall have life yet longer.
If you’ve ever wondered whether music has power, take a listen to this movement, and then see what you think! I’ve included both a recording that follows the score so you can see what the quartet players would see, and a live recording of a group at the Fischoff competition, which is an annual competition for ensembles aged 22 and younger held in Indiana. Enjoy!