In the summer of 1788 Haydn began composing two series of three quartets each, published under the opus numbers 54 and 55 and nicknamed "Tost Quartets" - Johann Tost conducted the second violins in Haydn's orchestra with Prince Eszterhazy and was famous for his lively and atmospheric playing. In addition, he was a good businessman, so that Haydn, who was obviously in financial difficulties and could well use the income from these pieces, transferred the commercial exploitation of the works to him. • It may be that the financial straits drove him to hurry, but in any case the quartets op. 54 were quickly completed and the manuscript bristles with abbreviations and other signs of haste, which the meticulous Haydn could not otherwise afford. In any case, the speed of the creative process has not harmed the pieces; on the contrary, they already point to Beethoven in their dense, high-contrast musical language. In a sense, they are worked with a "thicker brushstroke" and occasionally show a more compact emotionality than is usual with Haydn. While Haydn was already at the forefront of development with the string quartet, here he becomes an avant-gardist of the high classical period.
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