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String quartets exhibit in the Music Library

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Stockhausen's Helikopter Quartet (detail), showing parts for instrumentalists and helicopter operators.

The Winter Quarter exhibit in the Music Library features six string quartet scores. Two are fairly traditional examples (Boccherini and Mozart), and four are contemporary scores, notable for the imaginative treatments they provide (Crumb, Ferneyhough, Brown, and Stockhausen). QR codes link to audio files for each work.

Arguably the ideal form of chamber music, the string quartet is meant to be performed for the enjoyment and edification of its players, in an intimate setting, with or without an audience. Goethe described the classical quartet form as “four rational people conversing,” a type of discourse embodied in the quartets of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Boccherini. While later composers added steadily to the repertoire, the form remained virtually unchanged for over two centuries.

New approaches to composition and performance practice in the later 20th century include non-traditional elements (electronics, spoken words, extremely detailed performing instructions) and venues (in helicopters?!). The late 18th and late 20th century examples on display testify to the enduring resilience of the form.

Through March 2014. 

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