Ravel String Quartet in F major (1903) and Shostakovich String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110 (1960)
Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) was a French composer, pianist and conductor. He is often associated with impressionism along with his elder contemporary Claude Debussy. In the 1920s and 1930s Ravel was internationally regarded as France's greatest living composer. The String Quartet in F major was completed in 1903. It was premiered in Paris the following year. The work follows a four-movement classical structure: the opening movement, in sonata form, presents two themes that occur again later in the work; a playful scherzo second movement is followed by a lyrical slow movement. The finale reintroduces themes from the earlier passages and ends the work vigorously.
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) was a Russian pianist and composer of the Soviet period. He is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century. The String Quartet #8 was written shortly after two traumatic events in the life of the composer: the first presentation of debilitating muscular weakness that would eventually be diagnosed as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and his reluctant joining of the Communist Party. It is dedicated "to the victims of fascism and the war." His son Maxim interprets this as a reference to the victims of all totalitarianism, while his daughter Galina says that he dedicated it to himself, and that the published dedication was imposed by the Russian authorities.