The quartets on this program are eloquent bookends for a lifetime devoted to composing deeply personal musical statements. The mild side of Beethoven is showcased in the second quartet of his Op. 18, a work with a graceful quality reminiscent of his predecessor Haydn. At the start of the Op. 131 Quartet, Beethoven introduces a profound fugue—Wagner called it “the most melancholy sentiment ever expressed in music”—but it is only the beginning of an epic seven-movement journey that culminates in a tumultuous struggle and ultimately restless resignation.