Haydn’s claim to the title of ‘father of the string quartet’ is rarely, if ever, disputed. From his opp. 1 and 2 onwards the ensemble takes up a significant part of his musical output (he wrote sixty-eight of them in all) thus establishing the ensemble of two violins, a viola and a cello as one of the most important standard groups of classical music.
The composer also presided over the transformation of the quartet from a private, player-centred art form to a public music written for concert hall and for the enjoyment of an audience.
Here, to illustrate that transition, are two of the composer’s most famous works for the ensemble: Op. 33, No. 3 in C (aka ‘The Bird’) and Op. 76, No. 3 also in C (aka ‘The Emperor’):