Today is the traditional birth date of Ludwig Van Beethoven. We don’t know for sure when he was born, but we do know he was christened on the 17th – and the tradition at the time was to christen a child the day after its birth. Few composers have ever equalled him in importance, and none have surpassed him. His 9th symphony is considered by many to be the greatest piece ever written. I would contend his string quartets are at least as important; but string quartets aren’t as glamorous as the big band stuff… But that’s just a theory… I could be wrong… Through the years conductors have taken to playing the quartets with full orchestral string sections, as if assigning additional players might make up for what is lost in intimacy and ensemble.