Razumovsky string quartets, opus 59 by Ludwig van Beethoven are written in 1806, as a result of a commission by Count Andreas Razumovsky.
The quartets were generally received with uncertainty, as they deviated from the established genre of string quartets in their content and emotional range. However, one review published in 1807 stated that "Three new, very long and difficult Beethoven string quartets … are attracting the attention of all connoisseurs. The conception is profound and the construction excellent, but they are not easily comprehended."
In two of the three String Quartets, numbers one and two, Beethoven incorporated Russian themes to please his patron:
In Op. 59 No. 1, the "Thème russe" (as the score is marked) is the principal theme of the last movement.
In Op. 59 No. 2, the Thème russe is in the B section of the third movement.
This theme is based on a Russian folk song which was also utilized by Modest Mussorgsky in the coronation scene of his opera Boris Godunov, by Sergei Rachmaninoff in the sixth movement of his 6 Morceaux for Piano Duet, Op.11 "Glory" ("Slava"), and by Igor Stravinsky in his ballet The Firebird.
Prince Razumovsky was a Russian ambassador in Vienna, as well as a patron of the arts. Razumovsky spent a vast amount of money from his own pocket on building a sumptuous new embassy outside the city wall on a rise overlooking the Danube. After a fire that ruined a celebration of the successful conclusion of the Congress of Vienna in 1814 – for which the then Count Razumovsky was elevated to Prince – following the allies’ defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig, Razumovsky continued to live in Vienna - in seclusion. In fighting the fire Razumovsky's sight was damaged, his spirit was broken. His descendants live in Vienna today. His palace still stands, its once magnificent gardens overgrown and its grandeur faded.