The class was probably named something like "Contemporary Music Analysis." The teacher was Homer Keller, a composer and fantastic communicator.
I was in love with a girl who played oboe and composed. I tried so hard to concentrate and pay attention -- but I'm quite sure I missed a lot of good stuff while I was thinking about this beautiful girl and about something that would magically happen four years later -- but that's another story!!
Shortly after man first set foot on the moon, I took a giant step of my own.
As we settled into our chairs, Keller passed out copies of this quartet. The only Bartok I knew was the Concerto for Orchestra, which I had been in love with for years -- but for some reason, I had never heard any of the six string quartets.
Keller dropped the needle on the record. After the first few bars, my future "girlfriend" had a look on her face which I am quite sure was identical to my own. We were suddenly in another universe. Neither of us had ever heard music this powerful, scored for four instruments. After 22 minutes or so, we all sat, completely stunned by what we had just heard.
We spent the next few classes carefully analyzing the piece. Without getting too technical, I can tell you this:
The form of this masterpiece was something unfamiliar to us -- what Keller told us was called "Arch Form."
In other words, the relationship between movements is based upon themes (although it is probably better to use the term "motif" or even "cell") which Bartok sort of "mirrors" in movements 1 and 5; and 2 and 4.