The String Quartet No. 1 in F major, op. 18, No. 1, was written by Ludwig van Beethoven between 1798 and 1800 and published in 1801. It is actually the second string quartet that Beethoven composed.
The quartet consists of four movements:
Allegro con brio
Adagio affettuoso ed appassionato
Scherzo: Allegro molto
According to Beethoven's friend Karl Amenda, the second movement was inspired by the tomb scene from William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The quartet was heavily revised between the version that Amenda first received and the version that was sent to the publisher a year later, including changing the second movement's marking from Adagio molto to the more specific Adagio affetuouso ed appassionato. Of these modifications, Beethoven wrote:
"Be sure not to hand on to anybody your quartet, in which I have made some drastic alterations. For only now have I learnt to write quartets; and this you will notice, I fancy, when you receive them."
The theme of the finale is almost directly borrowed from the finale of his earlier string trio, Op. 9 No. 3 in c minor; the themes are very closely related and the resemblance is obvious even on a first hearing.
^ Winter & Martin, p. 151
Robert Winter, Robert Martin eds. (1994). The Beethoven Quartet Companion. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-08211-7.; especially the essay by Michael Steinberg (pp. 150-155)