Stanford University has a new free online course on Haydn and the development of the string quartet.
The first half of the course explores string quartet writing before Haydn, as well as his early works. The second half is devoted to a detailed look at Haydn’s String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 20 No 5.
The course will help you learn what to listen for and get a better understanding of how the string quartet works.
You do not need to read music for this course. The music tutorial that is offered is minimal, and looks like a quiz–click on “Show Answer” for explanations. If you do read music, “dynamic scores” are available. Even if you don’t read music, check them out, they’re pretty cool, and you can learn a lot through observation and pattern matching. When you select a movement, a play bar appears. When you click play, the notes that are being played turn red. And for the trill, the tr and note wiggle up and down—I think that’s quite clever!
The course includes a video of each movement of the String Quartet in F Minor performed by the St. Lawrence Quartet. The videos can be viewed with or without the dynamic score. The videos may also be downloaded for further study and enjoyment.
You can go at your own pace, and you can earn a certificate of accomplishment. You can pick entry level or advanced level for the quizzes.
For more details, here is the webpage for “Defining the String Quartet: Haydn.”
You might also be interested in the course “The World of the String Quartet” from the Curtis Institute of Music on Coursera.
Image attribution: Portrait of Joseph Haydn by Thomas Hardy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AJoseph_Haydn.jpg