Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing

Beethoven’s String Quartets: A Delight for the Eye and Ear

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Portrait of Beethoven wearing tie-dye t-shirt, holding manuscript

Perhaps you have listened to Beethoven’s string quartets, or seen performances, recorded or live.  Now, you can see them in a new way.

I have highlighted the work of Stephen Malinowski in previous posts (here, for example).  He takes classical works and adds visualizations that reflect various aspects of the music, showing how voices interweave, pitches shift, and more.  Malinowski calls them animated graphical scores, and they provide great insights into the musical structure.  They can draw attention to aspects of the music you might miss otherwise.  They are also mesmerizing.

Malinowski collaborated with the Alexander String Quartet, who performed individual Beethoven string quartet movements that were then given visualizations.  Afterwards, they set a spectacular goal: record and visualize all of Beethoven’s string quartets in honor of Beethoven’s upcoming 250th birthday.


It was hard to select a single movement to highlight here.  Should I pick the Cavatina from String Quartet No. 13 (whose visualization reminds me of stained glass, or butterfly wings), a piece that I have discussed previously on this blog?  Or the “Heiliger Dankesang” movement of String Quartet No. 15 in A Minor?  I decided to give you a little morsel, the lighthearted, even playful, Scherzo from String Quartet No. 1.

I’m sure you will enjoy the wonderful performances of the Alexander String Quartet and Malinowski’s visualizations of Beethoven’s music.  Here is the YouTube playlist of the string quartets. Here you can find Malinowski’s notes and background information on the quartets.  If you’d like more technical or musical details, including notes on the visualization of works by other composers, start here.  You might also want to see if your favorite piece has been visualized at the YouTube channel.



Image attribution: Portrait of Beethoven wearing tie-dye t-shirt. Portrait of Beethoven by Joseph Karl Stieler [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Tie-dye by MpegMan at en.wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons. Mash-up by C. Gallant.

One thought on “Beethoven’s String Quartets: A Delight for the Eye and Ear

  1. Malinowski makes Beethoven, here, more relevant. Preposterous. Hyperbole. I have never looked at choreography on paper, only in the flesh. This is sort of that, although there is no paper. Long ago I set out to listen to all the quartets. I think I have done it, but strung out over a long stretch of time. This is in fact a stretching of time only with photons not phonons. So I now have set the task of doing it via Malinowski’s work. Sublime. Hyperbole.


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