Mendelssohn’s Second String Quartet: Beyond Teenage Love

We don’t know any of the details- not even her name. But in 1827 the 18-year-old Felix Mendelssohn seems to have fallen head over heels in love. In June of that year, Mendelssohn was inspired to write the words and music for a love song called Frage, Op. 9 (“Question”). The short song is full of teasingly hesitant questions which find contented resolution in a plagal cadence which evokes the serene, dreamy final bars of …

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Through the Looking-Glass: Caroline Shaw’s "Entr’acte"

You might not expect a contemporary American composer in her early 30s to be influenced by the music of Franz Joseph Haydn. But the Menuet of Haydn’s Op. 77, No. 2 String Quartet was the key that unlocked Caroline Shaw’s Entr’acte, a 2011 work for string quartet. Shaw explains, Entr’acte was written in 2011 after hearing the Brentano Quartet play Haydn’s Op. 77 No. 2 — with their spare and soulful shift to the D-flat major trio in the …

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