Live String Quartet Performances

In Anne Shreffler's freshman seminar on Beethoven's String Quartets, students in the class perform excerpts from the music being studied in practically every class. To allow this, Professor Shreffler selects some musicians among the applicants for the freshman seminar (not all are musicians). She makes sure that there are at least two violinists, one violist, and one cellist with experience playing chamber music. This is not difficult, since many Harvard students are excellent musicians. 

The object of forming a class quartet is not to present a polished performance, but rather to dig into specific passages and talk about them. The performers get an inside-out view of the music. For the other students, the experience of listening to their classmates perform is much more immediate than just listening to CDs. They listen with far greater attention, and, according to Shreffler, they learn a great deal more than in a purely classroom music course.

At the end of the semester, students are given the option of doing creative work for their final project. Some of these are musical, ranging from a piano reduction of a string quartet movement to a polished, rehearsed string quartet performance. Others are more analytical and mathematical, such as the student who graphed an entire movement of a Beethove quartet.

See below for the course syllabus.

beethovens_string_quartets_syllabus.doc40 KB