Discussion On The Unusual Form Of the Finale Of Haydn's Op.54, no.2.

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Discussion On The Unusual Form Of the Finale Of Haydn's Op.54, no.2

The three String Quartets that make up Haydn's Op.54 were probably written for the virtuoso violonist Johann Tost , and are therefore widely known as the "Tost Quartets." A feature common to all three of the quartets is the difficult writing of the first violin part.

A specific debate of concern arises when we look at the finale of the C Major Quartet, No. 2 of Op.54. It appears to be unusual in all senses: it closes and opens with an adagio (which still can be heard as an introduction at the beginning), has a very "curious" key change scheme , and leads the listener through a "hard-to-predict" series of events metrically as well as key-wise: scattered grand pauses and fermatas appear as connectors in the sub-movements . However, it still serves in its unique way of formal construction, towards a "successful" or a "satisfying" conclusion of the quartet.

Or does it?

The purpose of the discussion in this paper is to: 1) shed a light on the relationship between the first, second and third movements and the finale through a formal examination of the movement and explain how "relevant" a closer it is for the whole quartet;

2) give an objective account of the "typical" finales we have encountered in the course so far, and compare and contrast the expectations from a "Haydn" finale with what we are presented with in Op.54;

3) provide a subjective view of how this "atypical" conclusion can/cannot work from a modern listener's perspective.

General Form and Characteristics Relating to Finale

Specifically, as the third of the seven "great" Quartets that Haydn wrote in the key of C, this quartet follows a quite unique route : following a regular sonata form first...