Beethoven String Quartet No. 4 Fingerings

Edited: November 20, 2021, 4:43 PM · Hello,
I am playing the first violin part in Beethoven's String Quartet No. 4 in C minor, Op. 18. In the first movement, I am having difficulties finding a successful fingering in the following sections:

-Measures 163-172
-Measures 202-215

If anyone has played first violin in this quartet I would genuinely appreciate it if you could provide fingering for either of these sections, it would be a huge help, thanks!

Replies (12)

November 20, 2021, 4:44 PM · What edition? I'm not finding any helpful letters in the parts or scores on IMSLP.

Or, a clue on what part of the movement would be helpful. Relative to the double bar, the recap, etc.

November 20, 2021, 4:45 PM · please
November 20, 2021, 4:56 PM · I also have give these section in terms of letters, since I also have these in my edition in case you do not have an edition with measure numbers. The sections in terms of letter numbers are:

-5 measures after section letter L to section letter to 4 measures before section letter M
-section letter O to 7 measures after section letter P

Edited: November 20, 2021, 5:17 PM · The last edition listed on the IMSLP on the page for the individual quartet (as opposed to the one for opus 18 as a whole) is a typeset by a volunteer. It has measure numbers. Looking at the two passages I have to say I see some difficulties. I could not come up with good suggestions.

It has been 20 years, maybe more, since I last played this piece, no way I remember now how I fingered it. Sorry! (I sight-read, I never properly practiced the piece, so there are no pencil notes in my sheet music). Most likely I stayed in first position as long as possible.

Edited: November 20, 2021, 5:52 PM · Hi,
as far as 163 -172 is concerned 167, go to second pos after the e string trill so you can do 3141/32 ( I just go up to fifth position and do the second long trill on the a string. )The huge big leap on the e string is then avoided unless you really waned to do that which would be an artistic choice.
last beat of 205 in 4th pos. 206 is in 6th position , shift down on the semitone in the 16ths,the either satretch or do a nice clean shift to 7th for the high note. just gotta get home to 1st position after that
As a general rule utilizing a lot of 2nd a 4th position in Beethoven quartets can often improve things
November 20, 2021, 6:30 PM · I'd play that section from 167 in 5th position, maybe. You don't have the melody–the 2nd violin does–so it doesn't need to be piercingly loud or anything. And then the G octave in M 171 in sixth position (1-4, or honestly possibly 3rd finger on the high G because I'm lazy about 4th finger vibrato).

In the section from 202 there are a couple of ways to go about it but generally some combo of 1st and 3rd until 207, when my first instinct would be to try to do a 3rd finger shift from C to G, stay in place for the 16ths, and then not have to go hunting for that A-flat (which, again, I might play with 3rd finger instead of the 4th that would already be there.)

For the ending, there's no great way to go for the last high a-flat–but it's one of those notes that's useful to have in your hand memory (if that makes sense).

In 215, you could experiment with starting in third and shifting from the c to the e-flat for emphasis. Or not. (shifting DOWN to 4th position is always awkward for me, but if you're more confident, you can just shift to 4th on the b-natural in 214 and then stay there. That's one I'd have to practice a lot more to be confident about).

November 20, 2021, 6:39 PM · Greetings,
nothing wrong with doing the whole section in fifth but for my taste, doing the same thing twice in a row is something I try to avoid.
November 20, 2021, 7:01 PM · Doing the same thing twice in a row is something I wish I could do more reliably! (I'm famously noncommittal about fingerings. Which is why I was pacing around 10 minutes before a concert recently trying to commit a new fingering to memory. Did I play it that way in the end? probably not, honestly.)
November 20, 2021, 7:21 PM · just like Milstein.not bad company.
November 21, 2021, 5:55 AM · In the first bit, I'd do the first trill in 1st position, and then shift up to 4th position on the B natural. For the second trill, it is simple to move up to 5th position on the A string. So play that one 2-3. Then shift up again to play the G octave 1-4. Or just reach for the 4 after playing the lower G with a 2.

From 203, I'd creep up gradually at first. So for the E natural on the turn, 3rd finger. Then perhaps 2 on the next half note, and 3 for the Sforzando G flat. At some point you might then shift down to the E string before jumping up-- or just go all the way up the A string before the really high notes. On those, I'd consider playing the G in bar 207 with 3, and stay in position until you play the top note with 4. It means a string crossing, but that is probably better than a really awkward shift down and then back up on the E string.

November 21, 2021, 6:59 AM · That has been one of my favorite quartets for violin, I played it lots, but only once in the past 40 years. I had the Schirmer edition and followed the printed fingerings.
November 21, 2021, 8:45 AM · Thank you both, this is very helpful!!

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