Beethoven was not the only composer with hearing problems. In his old age Fauré was also afflicted, which led to the distilled and almost unworldly writing that marks his sole string quartet. A seldom-lyrical critic wrote of the 'Andante' that it "is bathed in a supernatural light, from beginning to end".
Although Smetana was within a short time consigned to deafness by syphilis, he continued to compose. The Second String Quartet is a tragi-comic reflection of the frustrations in his life and is the final work he wrote before his illness dragged him into insanity.
Schumann, too, ended with mental illness, albeit that in his case it did not originate in deafness, but in an antithetical misery: auditory hallucinations. However, he had long previously written his magisterial Third String Quartet. In the first three movements, sharply contrasting emotions succeed each other, all culminating in a finale full of good-natured humour.
Our three patients are skilfully nursed by the young Finnish quartet Meta4, fortunately very sharp of ear. In no time at all, performances in the leading concert halls of the world have catapulted these four instrumentalists to fame.