Referred to as the 'French Beethoven', George Onslow (1784-1853) lived through the First Empire and the Restoration, imposing himself by clearing the way, to a degree, for chamber music, which was little practiced in France at the time. A contemporary of Berlioz and Paganini, Onslow would lend credibility to this genre that did not find an audience in Paris until 1814, when his good friend the violinist Pierre Baillot led a series of chamber concerts. Amongst the hundreds of works he wrote, his string quartets in particular stand out for their spirit of invention, sometimes visionary and always surprising. Beginning with his youthful quartets (Opp. 8, 9 and 10), Onslow innovated in both content and form, experimenting with a French style that lay within the heritage of the Mozartian and Beethovenian quartet. To this was often added a virtuosic - typically Parisian - dimension that contributed a spectacular aspect to the quality of the ideas.