The 1750s through to the 1770s were exciting times and marked the dawn of the  string quartet as a genre in its own right. We are continually captivated by the delight in experimentation revealed by many composers as they breathed life into this new formation of four string instruments without continuo. Formally, there are still myriad possibilities: the number of movements varies, as do the roles given to the individual instruments. Sometimes these conduct a polite conversation, sometimes a heated debate, although violins, viola, and cello are often on a surprisingly equal footing. The fugue is popular in Vienna, in Italy every second movement seems to transport you to an opera stage, while the Mannheim composers joyfully launch their famous skyrockets in their string quartets, too. Many names are hardly known today.

Our aim is to present not only string quartets by famous composers, such as Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but also works by lesser-known masters that have now been forgotten. On our forays through archives and libraries, we repeatedly come across fascinating musical rarities that we regard as milestones in the evolution of this genre.