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A Study of the Relationship Between Motive and Structure in Brahms's op. 51 String Quartets

Description: In 1873, Brahms completed the two op. 51 quartets. These were not the first string quartets Brahms composed, hut they were the first that Brahms allowed to be published. He found the string quartet difficult; as he confided to his friend Alwin Cranz, he sketched out twenty string quartets before producing a pair he thought worthy of publishing. Questions arise: what aspect of the string quartet gave Brahms so much trouble, and what in the op. 51 quartets gave him the inclination to publish them for the first time in his career? The op. 51 quartets are essential to understanding the evolution of Brahms's compositional technique. Brahms had difficulty limiting his massive harmony and polyphony to four solo strings. This difficulty was compounded by his insistence on deriving even the accompaniment from the opening main motivic material. This study investigates the manner in which Brahms distributes the main motivic material to all four voices in these quartets, while at the same time highlighting each voice effectively in the dialogue.
Date: August 1989
Creator: Yang, Benjamin H. (Benjamin Hoh)
Partner: UNT Libraries