We do not understand music--it understands us. This aphorism by Theodor W. Adorno expresses the quandary and the fascination many listeners have felt in approaching Beethoven's late quartets. No group of compositions occupies a more central position in chamber music, yet the meaning of these works continues to stimulate debate. William Kinderman's The String Quartets of Beethoven stands as the most detailed and comprehensive exploration of the subject. It collects new work by leading international scholars who draw on a variety of historical sources and analytical approaches to offer fresh insights into the aesthetics of the quartets, probing expressive and structural features that have hitherto received little attention. This volume also includes an appendix with updated information on the chronology and sources of the quartets and a detailed bibliography.