Haydn's String Quartets (Opus 76)

Historical Notes

Haydn's six String Quartets Op. 76 were written in 1796-1797 and published two years later, with a dedication to Count Joseph Erdöty. They are among Haydn's most celebrated works: particularly famous is the third quartet, where the "Poco adagio" is a set of variations on Haydn's own theme from his Emperor's Hymn, "Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser" (1797). Here is a comment about Op. 76 by a famous contemporary musicologist:

"Years of experience had given him [Haydn] a formidable technique, comparable to J. S. Bach's, and this was now put to work in tonal and formal experiments which gave a new and -- for the professional musician -- immensely stimulating dimension to the art. Of all the many aspects of this set which command our special attention, it is perhaps the slow movements (which, in their depth of expression go a step further even than Mozart's) that strike us most forcibly."
(H. C. Robbins Landon)


String Quartet No. 75 (Op. 76 No. 1) in G Major

  1. Allegro con spirito
  2. Adagio sostenuto
  3. Menuet: Presto
  4. Finale: Allegro ma non troppo

String Quartet No. 76 (Op. 76 No. 2) in D Minor
"Fifths" (Quintenquartett)

  1. Allegro
  2. Andante o più tosto Allegretto
  3. Menuetto ("Witches menuett")
  4. Finale: Vivace assai

String Quartet No. 77 (Op. 76 No. 3) in C Major
"Emperor" (Kaiserquintett)

  1. Allegro
  2. Poco Adagio. Cantabile.
  3. Menuetto
  4. Finale. Presto

String Quartet No. 78 (Op. 76 No. 4) in B-flat Major
"Sunrise" (Sonnenaufgangquartett)

  1. Allegro con spirito
  2. Adagio
  3. Menuet: Allegro
  4. Finale: allegro ma non troppo

String Quartet No. 79 (Op. 76 No. 5) in D Major

  1. Allegretto - Allegro
  2. Largo cantabile e mesto ("Graveyard's Largo")
  3. Menuetto
  4. Finale: Presto

String Quartet No. 80 (Op. 76 No. 6) in E-flat Major

  1. Allegretto - Allegro
  2. Fantasia: Adagio
  3. Menuetto
  4. Finale. Allegro spiritoso

Note: Nicknames for quartets nn. 2, 3, 4 are not by Haydn, as well as the titles "Witches Menuett" and "Graveyard's Largo".

About The Source Used

I used an old Kalmus edition which contained more than one engraving error. I corrected them without notice, but they can be discovered by looking for the comments I placed in the source .ly files. Dynamics in parentheses are always reproduced from the Kalmus source. Cautionary accidentals are not extensively used in the Kalmus edition; many of them are of my own.


Haydn's Quartets Op. 76 are among the most celebrated and recorded quartets. A lot of recordings are therefore available. These are the most important.

Also worth of mention is the interpretation of Kodaly Quartet.

Maurizio Tomasi, January 2004.