John Helmich, violin
Julie Fox Henson, violin
Jonathan Sturm, viola
George Work, cello
June 9, 2021
Belin Quartet Concert Program
John Helmich, violin
Haydn String Quartet in E-flat, Op. 33, No. 2, “The Joke”
I. Allegro moderato
II. Scherzo: Allegro
By 1782, the quartet genre had been solidified, in large part thanks to Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809). When the six quartets issued as Op. 33 were first performed, their great distinguishing feature was a new texture—a quartet that liberated the subordinate voices. Though Haydn is frequently referred to as the “father of the symphony”, he also pioneered the string quartet in which every instrument was equal and independent. The second quartet of the set, “The Joke”, is particularly effective because these new musical conventions allowed Haydn to highlight interplay between parts and juxtapose the expected with the unexpected.
The first movement of the piece offers an immediate example of the interactions between voices. Haydn’s Allegro moderato, cantabile playfully contrasts a short-short-long motive with its long-long-short counterpart. Haydn’s second movement is a dance in the form of a minuet and trio. The glissandi in the first violin part to contributes to an unrefined sound, an indication of Haydn’s sense of humor as a highly sophisticated composer imitating the efforts of village musicians. Haydn’s third movement follows a lyrical main theme first voiced by the viola and then passed through different instrumental pairings. The last movement gave the “Joke” Quartet its name. Clara Schumann wrote of how she laughed aloud after hearing it performed. The movement is built on a simple, catchy theme like that of the Scherzo. As the story goes, Haydn wrote the last movement to win a bet that ‘the people will always begin talking’ before the music stops.
For more than 20 years, Belin Quartet concerts have been presented to our community at no charge through the generosity of the Belin Family.
Meet the Musicians
About the Belin Quartet
The Belin Quartet has been harmonizing with the Des Moines community for more than 20 years. With instrumental support from the Civic Music Association since its founding, the Belin Quartet honors the enduring legacy of David Belin (1928-1999) and Connie Belin (1930-1980).
Tracy was a member of the first violin sections of the Winnipeg Symphony and Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and has served on the faculty of several Universities including Northwestern, St. Olaf College, Carleton College and North Carolina State University.
Burgdorf is at home performing in both rock venues and classical venues, having shared the stage at sold-out shows with Dessa, Jeremy Messersmith, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.