Program Notes (Summer 2015)

Charles Ives

String Quartet No. 2


The following words appear below the title of the score:

String Quartet for 4 men–who converse, discuss, argue (in re: ‘Politick’, fight, shake hands, shut up–then walk up the mountain side to view the firmament!

Ives said of the Second String Quartet that it is ‘one of the best things I have, but the old ladies (male and female) don’t like it anywhere at all. It makes them mad…’

Tunes incorporated in the music include:

1st movement: “Columbia, Gem of the Ocean”; “Dixie’s Land”; “Marching Through Georgia”; “Turkey in the Straw”

2nd movement: “Columbia, Gem of the Ocean”; “Marching Through Georgia”; “Massa in De Cold Ground”; Beethoven, Sym. No. 9/iv; Brahms, Sym. No. 2/i; Tchaikovsky Sym. No. 6/iii

3rd movement: “Bethany”; “Nettleton”; “Westminster Chimes”

The first performance of the String Quartet No. 2 was in NYC on May 11, 1946. The work was performed by a Juilliard School student ensemble. (The same concert also featured the premiere performances of “The Unanswered Question” and “Central Park in the Dark.”)


John Holland

Light and Dark


Two kinds of music were sampled from the standard concert repertory: Krzysztof Pendercki’s String Quartet No. 1 (1960) which is presented without editing, and the familiar Ave Maria for voice and piano by Franz Schubert. I separated the Schubert music into natural phrases then rearranged the segments on several tracks. Other tracks are devoted to original electronic sounds.

The music is designed to provide a landscape of two opposing worlds.


Elliott Carter

String Quartet No. 3


 Elliott Carter’s String Quartet No. 3 won the Pulitzer Prize in music in 1973. It is dedicated to the Julliard String Quartet.

The quartet is divided into a pair of duos, Duo I made up of the first violin and the cello, and Duo II made up of the second violin and viola. The two duos play in their own overlapping movements: distinct tempos, articulation, and material, neither coinciding with the other. The first duo is instructed to play rubato throughout its four movements, while the second plays in strict time in six movements. In addition, each movement is assigned a characteristic interval. The ten movements are not played continuously, but rather are fragmented and recombined, producing a total of 24 possible pairings of movements between the duos, as well as a solo statement of each movement. An additional coda brings the total number of sections to 35. The duos rarely synchronize and frequently clash in complex polyrhythms and dissonances.

Each duo uses a distinct interval class, dynamic range, phrasing, and bowing techniques per movement. The movements are

Duo I:

A Furioso (major seventh)

B Leggerissimo (perfect fourth)

C Andande espressivo (minor sixth)

D Pizzicato giocoso (minor third)

Duo II:

1 Maestoso (perfect fifth)

2 Grazioso (minor seventh)

3 Pizzicato giusto, mechanico (tritone)

4 Scorrevole (minor second)

5 Largo tranquillo (major third)

6 Appassionato (major 6th)

Carter intended to achieve the effect of two distinct ensemble groups playing two pieces at once, clashing in sound. However, he stressed the importance of observing the combinations of sound between the two sound sources. – from Wikipedia