Log24

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Bach for String Quartet

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:37 PM

See also Bach + Quartet in this  journal.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Quartet

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 12:00 PM

IMAGE- Four quadrants of a Galois tesseract, and a figure from 'Lawrence of Arabia'

Happy Beethoven's Birthday.

Related material:  Abel 2005 and, more generally, Abel.

See also Visible Mathematics.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Beautiful Mathematics

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , , — m759 @ 7:59 PM

The title, which I dislike, is taken from a 2011 publication
of the MAA, also sold by Cambridge University Press.

Some material relevant to the title adjective:

"For those who have learned something of higher mathematics, nothing could be more natural than to use the word 'beautiful' in connection with it. Mathematical beauty, like the beauty of, say, a late Beethoven quartet, arises from a combination of strangeness and inevitability. Simply defined abstractions disclose hidden quirks and complexities. Seemingly unrelated structures turn out to have mysterious correspondences. Uncanny patterns emerge, and they remain uncanny even after being underwritten by the rigor of logic."— Jim Holt, opening of a book review in the Dec. 5, 2013, issue of The New York Review of Books

Some relevant links—

The above list was updated on Jan. 31, 2014, to include the
"Strangeness" and "Hidden quirks" links.  See also a post of
​Jan. 31, 2014.

Update of March 9, 2014 —

The link "Simply defined abstractions" is to the construction of the Steiner
system S(5, 8, 24) described by R. T. Curtis in his 1976 paper defining the
Miracle Octad Generator. It should be noted that this construction is due
to Richard J. Turyn, in a 1967 Sylvania research report. (See Emily Jennings's
talk of 1 Nov. 2012.) Compare  the Curtis construction, written in 1974,
with the Turyn construction of 1967 as described in Sphere Packings, Lattices
and Groups , by J. H. Conway and N. J. A. Sloane (first published in 1988).

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday March 28, 2008

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:14 PM
Being and Nothingness

“From this I reach what I might call a philosophy; at any rate it is a constant idea of mine; that behind the cotton wool [of daily life] is hidden a pattern; that we– I mean all human beings– are connected with this; that the whole world is a work of art; that we are parts of the work of art. Hamlet or a Beethoven quartet is the truth about this vast mass that we call the world. But there is no Shakespeare, there is no Beethoven; certainly and emphatically there is no God; we are the words; we are the music; we are the thing itself.”

— Virginia Woolf, “A Sketch of the Past,” 1939-40, in Moments of Being

“And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.”

— Ophelia, Hamlet IV. v.

“Ophelia’s story becomes the Story of O– the zero, the empty circle or mystery of feminine difference, the cipher of female sexuality to be deciphered by feminist interpretation.”

— Elaine Showalter, “Representing Ophelia: Women, Madness, and the Responsibilities of Feminist Criticism.” Hamlet. Ed. Susanne L. Wofford. Boston: Bedford Books of St.Martin’s Press, 1994. 220-238.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Thursday July 17, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:23 AM

A Constant Idea

“From this I reach what I might call a philosophy; at any rate it is a constant idea of mine; that behind the cotton wool [of daily life] is hidden a pattern; that we — I mean all human beings — are connected with this; that the whole world is a work of art; that we are parts of the work of art. ‘Hamlet’ or a Beethoven quartet is the truth about this vast mass that we call the world. But there is no Shakespeare, there is no Beethoven; certainly and emphatically there is no God; we are the words; we are the music; we are the thing itself.”

— Virginia Woolf, “A Sketch of the Past,” 1939-40, in Moments of Being

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Finale

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:00 PM

Finale of Beethoven's String Quartet No. 16, Opus 135

        Related material — Posts in this journal on The King and the Corpse .

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday November 23, 2008

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 9:00 AM
The Idea of Identity

“The first credential
 we should demand of a critic
 is his ideograph of the good.”

— Ezra Pound,
  How to Read

Music critic Bernard Holland in The New York Times on Monday, May 20, 1996:

The Juilliard’s
Half-Century Ripening

Philosophers ponder the idea of identity: what it is to give something a name on Monday and have it respond to that name on Friday regardless of what might have changed in the interim. Medical science tells us that the body’s cells replace themselves wholesale within every seven years, yet we tell ourselves that we are what we were….

Schubert at the end of his life had already passed on to another level of spirit. Beethoven went back and forth between the temporal world and the world beyond right up to his dying day.

Exercise

Part I:
Apply Holland’s Monday-to-Friday “idea of identity” to the lives and deaths during the week of Monday, Nov. 10 (“Frame Tales“), through Friday, Nov. 14, of a musician and a maker of music documentaries– Mitch Mitchell (d. Nov. 12) and Baird Bryant (d. Nov. 13).

Part II:
Apply Holland’s “idea of identity” to last week (Monday, Nov. 17, through Friday, Nov. 21), combining it with Wigner’s remarks on invariance (discussed here on Monday) and with the “red dragon” (Log24, Nov. 15) concept of flight over “the Hump”– the Himalayas– and the 1991 documentary filmed by Bryant, “Heart of Tibet.”

Part III:

Discuss Parts I and II in the context of Eliot’s Four Quartets. (See Time Fold, The Field of Reason, and Balance.)

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Saturday June 11, 2005

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:11 AM

The Last Word

Beethoven Week on the BBC ended at midnight June 10.

“With Beethoven, music did not grow up, it regressed to adolescence. He was a hooligan who could reduce Schiller’s Ode to Joy to madness, bloodlust, and megalomania.”

Arts and Letters Daily, lead-in to an opinion piece in The Guardian of Tuesday, June 7, 2005:

Beethoven Was a Narcissistic Hooligan

“If Beethoven had dedicated his obvious talents to serving the noble Pythagorean view of music, he might well have gone on to compose music even greater than that of Mozart. You can hear this potential in his early string quartets, where the movements often have neat conclusions and there is a playfulness reminiscent of Mozart or Haydn. If only Beethoven had nourished these tender shoots instead of the darker elements that one can also hear. For the darkness is already evident in the early quartets too, in their sombre harmonies and sudden key changes. As it was, however, his darker side won out; compare, for example, the late string quartets. Here the youthful humour has completely vanished; the occasional signs of optimism quickly die out moments after they appear and the movements sometimes end in uncomfortably inconclusive cadences….

In A Clockwork Orange it is the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony that echoes in the mind of Alex whenever he indulges in one of his orgies of violence. Alex’s reaction may be rather extreme, but he is responding to something that is already there in this dark and frenzied setting of Schiller’s Ode to Joy; the joy it invites one to feel is the joy of madness, bloodlust and megalomania. It is glorious music, and seductive, but the passions it stirs up are dark and menacing.”

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05A/050611-Clock.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Dylan Evans, former Lacanian psychotherapist (pdf) and now head of the undergraduate robotics program at the University of the West of England.

Speak for yourself, Dylan.

“Evil did not have the last word.”

—  Richard John Neuhaus, April 4, 2005

Evil may have had the last word in Tuesday’s Guardian, but now that Beethoven Week has ended, it seems time for another word.

For another view of Beethoven, in particular the late quartets, see the Log24 Beethoven’s Birthday entry of December 16, 2002:

Beethoven’s Birthday

“Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet in A Minor, Opus 132, is one of the transcendent masterworks of the Western classical tradition. It is built around its luminous third movement, titled ‘Holy song of thanksgiving by one recovering from an illness.’

In this third movement, the aging Beethoven speaks, clearly and distinctly, in a voice seemingly meant both for all the world and for each individual who listens to it. The music, written in the ancient Lydian mode, is slow and grave and somehow both a struggle and a celebration at the same time.

This is music written by a supreme master at the height of his art, saying that through all illness, tribulation and sorrow there is a strength, there is a light, there is a hope.”

—  Andrew Lindemann Malone

“Eliot’s final poetic achievement—and, for many, his greatest—is the set of four poems published together in 1943 as Four Quartets…. Structurally—though the analogy is a loose one—Eliot modeled the Quartets on the late string quartets of Beethoven, especially… the A Minor Quartet; as early as 1931 he had written the poet Stephen Spender, ‘I have the A Minor Quartet on the gramophone, and I find it quite inexhaustible to study. There is a sort of heavenly or at least more than human gaiety about some of his later things which one imagines might come to oneself as the fruit of reconciliation and relief after immense suffering; I should like to get something of that into verse before I die.'”

— Anonymous author at a
Longman Publishers website

“Each of the late quartets has a unique structure, and the structure of the Quartet in A Minor is one of the most striking of all. Its five movements form an arch. At the center is a stunning slow movement that lasts nearly half the length of the entire quartet

The third movement (Molto adagio) has a remarkable heading: in the score Beethoven titles it ‘Hymn of Thanksgiving to the Godhead from an Invalid,’ a clear reflection of the illness he had just come through. This is a variation movement, and Beethoven lays out the slow opening section, full of heartfelt music. But suddenly the music switches to D major and leaps ahead brightly; Beethoven marks this section ‘Feeling New Strength.’ These two sections alternate through this movement (the form is A-B-A-B-A), and the opening section is so varied on each reappearance that it seems to take on an entirely different character each time: each section is distinct, and each is moving in its own way (Beethoven marks the third ‘With the greatest feeling’). This movement has seemed to many listeners the greatest music Beethoven ever wrote. and perhaps the problem of all who try to write about this music is precisely that it cannot be described in words and should be experienced simply as music.”

—  Eric Bromberger,
Borromeo Quartet program notes 

In accordance with these passages, here is a web page with excellent transcriptions for piano by Steven Edwards of Beethoven’s late quartets:

The 16 String Quartets.

Our site music for today, Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 15 in A Minor, Opus 132, Movement 3 (1825), is taken from this web page.

See also the previous entry.
 

Monday, February 28, 2005

Monday February 28, 2005

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:23 AM

Terrain

On the 77th annual Academy Awards:

“… in the Sarabande of Suite 6 Ma’s phrasing suggests we are in the same spiritual terrain as Beethoven’s late quartets.”

Thomas May

Amen.

For more on Bach, quartets, and film, see Eight is a Gate and 8/8/04.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Saturday February 26, 2005

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:23 PM

Four Quartets

"The form, the pattern"
— T. S. Eliot

"4 x 4 = 16"
— Anonymous

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05/050226-Quartets.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Related material:
The Form, the Pattern
and
  1. Opus   18 no. 1:
    String Quartet No.  1 in F major
  2. Opus   18 no. 2:
    String Quartet No.  2 in G major
  3. Opus   18 no. 3:
    String Quartet No.  3 in D major
  4. Opus   18 no. 4:
    String Quartet No.  4 in C minor
  5. Opus   18 no. 5:
    String Quartet No.  5 in A major
  6. Opus   18 no. 6:
    String Quartet No.  6 in B flat major
  7. Opus   59 no. 1:
    String Quartet No.  7 in F major "Rasumovsky 1"
  8. Opus   59 no. 2:
    String Quartet No.  8 in E minor "Rasumovsky 2"
  9. Opus   59 no. 3:
    String Quartet No.  9 in C major "Rasumovsky 3"
  10. Opus   74:        
    String Quartet No. 10 in E flat major "Harp"
  11. Opus   95:        
    String Quartet No. 11 in F minor "Serioso"
  12. Opus 127:        
    String Quartet No. 12 in E flat major
  13. Opus 130:        
    String Quartet No. 13 in B flat major
  14. Opus 131:        
    String Quartet No. 14 in C sharp minor
  15. Opus 132:        
    String Quartet No. 15 in A minor
  16. Opus 135:        
    String Quartet No. 16 in F major

Friday, February 25, 2005

Friday February 25, 2005

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:53 AM

Mr. Holland’s Week,
continued

“Philosophers ponder the idea of identity: what it is to give something a name on Monday and have it respond to that name on Friday regardless of what might have changed in the interim. Medical science tells us that the body’s cells replace themselves wholesale within every seven years, yet we tell ourselves that we are what we were.

The question is widened and elongated in the case of the Juilliard String Quartet.”

Bernard Holland in the New York Times,
    Monday, May 20, 1996

“Robert Koff, a founding member of the Juilliard String Quartet and a concert violinist who performed on modern and Baroque instruments, died on Tuesday at his home in Lexington, Mass. He was 86….

Mr. Koff, along with the violinist Robert Mann, the violist Raphael Hillyer and the cellist Arthur Winograd, formed the Juilliard String Quartet in 1946….”

Allan Kozinn in the New York Times,
    Friday, February 25, 2005

“One listened, for example, to the dazed, hymnlike beauty of the F Major’s Lento assai, and then to the acid that Beethoven sprinkles all around it. It is a wrestling match, awesome but also poignant. Schubert at the end of his life had already passed on to another level of spirit. Beethoven went back and forth between the temporal world and the world beyond right up to his dying day.”

Bernard Holland in the New York Times,
    Monday, May 20, 1996

Words move, music moves
Only in time; but that which is only living
Can only die. Words, after speech, reach
Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,
Can words or music reach
The stillness, as a Chinese jar still
Moves perpetually in its stillness.
Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts,
Not that only, but the co-existence,
Or say that the end precedes the beginning,
And the end and the beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end.
And all is always now.

T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Related material: Elegance and the following description of Beethoven’s last quartet.

Program note by Eric Bromberger:

String Quartet in F major, Op. 135
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN

Born December 16, 1770, Bonn
Died March 26, 1827, Vienna

This quartetBeethoven’s last complete composition – comes from the fall of 1826, one of the blackest moments in his life. During the previous two years, Beethoven had written three string quartets on commission from Prince Nikolas Galitzin, and another, the Quartet in C-sharp minor, Op. 131, composed between January and June 1826. Even then Beethoven was not done with the possibilities of the string quartet: he pressed on with yet another, making sketches for the Quartet in F major during the summer of 1826.

At that point his world collapsed. His twenty-year-old nephew Karl, who had become Beethoven’s ward after a bitter court fight with the boy’s mother, attempted suicide. The composer was shattered: friends reported that he suddenly looked seventy years old. When the young man had recovered enough to travel, Beethoven took him – and the sketches for the new quartet – to the country home of Beethoven’s brother Johann in Gneixendorf, a village about thirty miles west of Vienna. Here, as he nursed Karl back to health, Beethoven’s own health began to fail. He would get up and compose at dawn, spend his days walking through the fields, and then resume composing in the evening. In Gneixendorf he completed the Quartet in F major in October and wrote a new finale to his earlier Quartet in B-flat major, Op. 130. These were his final works. When Beethoven return to Vienna in December, he took almost immediately to bed and died the following March.

One would expect music composed under such turbulent circumstances to be anguished, but the Quartet in F major is radiant music, full of sunlight – it is as if Beethoven achieved in this quartet the peace unavailable to him in life. This is the shortest of the late quartets, and many critics have noted that while this music remains very much in Beethoven’s late style, it returns to the classical proportions (and mood) of the Haydn quartets.

The opening movement, significantly marked Allegretto rather than the expected Allegro, is the one most often cited as Haydnesque. It is in sonata form – though a sonata form without overt conflict – and Beethoven builds it on brief thematic fragments rather than long melodies. This is poised, relaxed music, and the finale cadence – on the falling figure that has run throughout the movement – is remarkable for its understatement. By contrast, the Vivace bristles with energy. Its outer sections rocket along on a sharply-syncopated main idea, while the vigorous trio sends the first violin sailing high above the other voices. The very ending is impressive: the music grows quiet, comes to a moment of stasis, and then Beethoven wrenches it to a stop with a sudden, stinging surprise.

The slow movement – Beethoven carefully marks it Lento assai, cantante e tranquillo – is built on the first violin’s heartfelt opening melody; the even slower middle section, full of halting rhythms, spans only ten measures before the return of the opening material, now elaborately decorated. The final movement has occasioned the most comment. In the manuscript, Beethoven noted two three-note mottoes at its beginning under the heading Der schwer gefasste Entschluss: “The Difficult Resolution.” The first, solemnly intoned by viola and cello, asks the question: “Muss es sein?” (“Must it be?”). The violins’ inverted answer, which comes at the Allegro, is set to the words “Es muss sein!” (“It must be!”). Coupled with the fact that this quartet is virtually Beethoven’s last composition, these mottoes have given rise to a great deal of pretentious nonsense from certain commentators, mainly to the effect that they must represent Beethoven’s last thoughts, a stirring philosophical affirmation of life’s possibilities. The actual origins of this motto are a great deal less imposing, for they arose from a dispute over an unpaid bill, and as a private joke for friends Beethoven wrote a humorous canon on the dispute, the theme of which he then later adapted for this quartet movement. In any case, the mottoes furnish material for what turns out to be a powerful but essentially cheerful movement. The coda, which begins pizzicato, gradually gives way to bowed notes and a cadence on the “Es muss sein!” motto.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Monday December 16, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:22 AM

Beethoven’s Birthday

“Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet in A Minor, Opus 132, is one of the transcendent masterworks of the Western classical tradition. It is built around its luminous third movement, titled ‘Holy song of thanksgiving by one recovering from an illness.’

In this third movement, the aging Beethoven speaks, clearly and distinctly, in a voice seemingly meant both for all the world and for each individual who listens to it. The music, written in the ancient Lydian mode, is slow and grave and somehow both a struggle and a celebration at the same time.

This is music written by a supreme master at the height of his art, saying that through all illness, tribulation and sorrow there is a strength, there is a light, there is a hope.”

—  Andrew Lindemann Malone

“Eliot’s final poetic achievement—and, for many, his greatest—is the set of four poems published together in 1943 as Four Quartets…. Structurally—though the analogy is a loose one—Eliot modeled the Quartets on the late string quartets of Beethoven, especially… the A Minor Quartet; as early as 1931 he had written the poet Stephen Spender, ‘I have the A Minor Quartet on the gramophone, and I find it quite inexhaustible to study. There is a sort of heavenly or at least more than human gaiety about some of his later things which one imagines might come to oneself as the fruit of reconciliation and relief after immense suffering; I should like to get something of that into verse before I die.'”

— Anonymous author at a
Longman Publishers website

“Each of the late quartets has a unique structure, and the structure of the Quartet in A Minor is one of the most striking of all. Its five movements form an arch. At the center is a stunning slow movement that lasts nearly half the length of the entire quartet

The third movement (Molto adagio) has a remarkable heading: in the score Beethoven titles it ‘Hymn of Thanksgiving to the Godhead from an Invalid,’ a clear reflection of the illness he had just come through. This is a variation movement, and Beethoven lays out the slow opening section, full of heartfelt music. But suddenly the music switches to D major and leaps ahead brightly; Beethoven marks this section ‘Feeling New Strength.’ These two sections alternate through this movement (the form is A-B-A-B-A), and the opening section is so varied on each reappearance that it seems to take on an entirely different character each time: each section is distinct, and each is moving in its own way (Beethoven marks the third ‘With the greatest feeling’). This movement has seemed to many listeners the greatest music Beethoven ever wrote. and perhaps the problem of all who try to write about this music is precisely that it cannot be described in words and should be experienced simply as music.”

—  Eric Bromberger,
Borromeo Quartet program notes 

In accordance with these passages, here is a web page with excellent transcriptions for piano by Steven Edwards of Beethoven’s late quartets:

The 16 String Quartets.

Our site music for today, Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 15 in A Minor, Opus 132, Movement 3 (1825), is taken from this web page.

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