A recent trip to the cinema has inspired guest blogger Jane Miller to explore a little further:

Have you seen the recent film Performance featuring Christopher Walken and Philip Seymour Hoffman? It tells the story of a string quartet, appropriately named “Fugue”, at a crucial time in its 25 year international performing career. The film traces the group’s demise and rebirth while preparing to perform one of Beethoven’s last completed compositions, the string quartet – Opus 14, K.131.

Published 3 months after his death, the quartet consists of seven movements, compared to the more conventional four, but intended by Beethoven to be played as one. He wrote to a friend that he had found “a new manner of part-writing, thank God, with less lack of imagination than before.”


Joseph Karl Stieler, 1820

Joseph Karl Stieler, 1820

The library’s collections can be used to explore K. 131, and you can listen to the piece itself in the Library on a recording by the Alban Berg Quartet,  or through the Naxos Music Library performed by Peter Oundijan and the Amsterdam Nieuw Sinfonietta; available to one and all here in the building and offsite to our Victorian registered users.



Our book collection, can help with exploring the story and meaning of this piece of music, both in the context of Beethoven’s life and music history more broadly. Oxford music online has a comprehensive entry on Beethoven, covering his life and works, along with references for further reading.

Musical compositions have long been used to great effect in film scores and Changing tunes : the use of pre-existing music in film explores a wide range of musical genres from opera, classical, and popular compositions to Bolero and French accordian music.

Ashgate, 2006

Ashgate, 2006

A new series of books titled Music on film is worth investigating as it explores individual films and the different ways they each make use of music – including Amadeus, This is Spinal Tap, Cabaret, West Side Story and A Hard day’s Night.

Jane Miller

Limelight Editions, 2010

Limelight Editions, 2010


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