The autograph score of the Quartets op. 17 was in the possession of the imperial police chief Johann Nepomuk Neuwirth, whose widow gave it to the Wiener Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in 1875. It is said that Haydn “used to play the viola in quartet rehearsals” at the Neuwirth’s house. Whether the Quartets op. 17 were composed for these gatherings can no longer be ascertained. However, even today they still have a fixed place amongst the music of all chamber music friends – and in particular nos. 4, 5 and 6, which are very different to the divertimento style of the early quartets, are played again and again.
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