2016 March 25. Another birthday for BB (135) and the 5th for us. In recognition, we've posted some of the unique features of QuartetWeb, which are easy to find, if harder to happen upon.
2015 February 02. One of these sooner days, we will post a list of what's unique on this site. There's more than it seems. For example, recently we added images of the first page of each of the string quartets by an unknown master of the medium, Milton Adolphus.
2013 August 20. We’re pleased to say that Phase 3 of this website now begins in full. Phase 1 presented the data in all categories plus photos and other documents. Phase 2 enabled others to register on the site and add information. Phase 3 has added multiple, sophisticated search functions to those already available.
A big thank-you to Rodrigo Flores, Aesthetic Web Solutions, for all his hard work skilfully implementing the many ideas and requirements we’ve had for QuartetWeb.
2013 August 12. The early years of many quartets have frequent changes of players. Unusual circumstances, such as a war, may bring that about. For some time, we’ve been intrigued by the apparent plethora of violists in the Walden Quartet from its beginning in 1934 until 1948, but only now have we found information enabling us to say who they all were and when they played in the Quartet. Thanks go to William Chase of the Cleveland Public Library, who supplied us with many scanned pages of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. They completed our search after our visit to the Walden Quartet’s archives at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 2011.
2013 August 02. QuartetWeb now sports several new ways to search for information. The earlier search functions remain: there’s a search field for names of composers, performing groups, and performers, including for premieres and recordings. But now you may find much more, under Site navigation: Additional searches. Range searches and other indications will return several results, e.g. all composers born in 1920 or later who lived in both France and the USA. (There are currently 22 of them.)
In the basic search for compositions, we’ve included a voice checkbox. A check in that box will find all compositions using any range of voice for singing but also speaking (narrating, reciting, etc.).
2013 March 25. Happy birthday to BB—and to us.
2013 March 02. It’s unusual to hear all the commonly played quartets by Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern in concerts in close succession. We were lucky enough to do so towards the end of February. Of course, “commonly played” is an exaggeration these days, the music scarcely being played at all, except perhaps for Schoenberg’s 2nd and Berg’s Lyric Suite.
Uncommonly fine performances were presented by the Lafayette and Molinari quartets in the Music Room of the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society, with Ingrid Attrot, soprano, in Schoenberg’s 2nd. Both quartets played this cycle also in Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia, and in Montréal, where they did so today, with all 13 pieces in two concerts.
2013 February 02. We thank very much Clyde Shaw of the Audubon Quartet (active from 1974 to 2011) for his ongoing extensive and intensive collaboration with QuartetWeb in providing many kinds of information and materials from his archives. The Audubon is becoming the model for what we’d like to do more of for string quartet groups.
2012 December 02. We’ve adjusted the timeline feature to be more accurate for groups with certain anomalies, e.g. players alternating in a part, or a single year in which a player followed another in the same part. If you want to see the timeline working at its fullest, check the Gewandhaus Quartet, which has had almost every conceivable anomaly over its 206-year history.
2012 November 02. Big news! A timeline function has been added for quartet groups for whom there are sufficient data. That means: if we have starting dates for all the quartet’s members, you may now see at a glance who all four were for any year it existed.
2012 October 02. The three quartet groups we have videos of on our home page happen to have turned 25 in 2010, 2011, and 2012. They are (in order) the Lafayette, the Penderecki, and the New Zealand. In 2011 we tried to take a photo of all 12 players on the same stage. They did get on that stage but let’s just say it didn’t work out quite the way we’d planned…
Recently we listed information about some young émigré Iranian composers. We’re always interested in how other cultures may treat the Western European string quartet.
Lastly, we have the dates of the first performance of all Murray Schafer’s string quartets, including the 12th, which hasn't been heard yet!
2012 September 02. You’ll now find our opening videos in random rotation (on the Welcome page). We’re planning to have more videos and give links now to some that present complete performances.
We’ve also just about completed our discography of the famous Juilliard Quartet. We even have one LP listed that no one else seems to know about!
2012 August 02. We’re closing in on the complete list of the premieres of Darius Milhaud’s string quartets. Only a few details to go. The same for Ralph Shapey’s.
2012 July 02. We’ve just listed Joe Cutler’s Ping! written for New Music 20x12 in England. There aren’t many pieces for string quartet and table tennis players! Video here.
2012 June 02. After a trip to England, we’re entering information gained from three libraries there. We’ve posted much too about Jean Sibelius, who wrote far more for string quartet than most people realize, all of it now recorded on BIS.
2012 May 02. Few other websites about string quartets are recommendable. We do recommend the newish site Forgotten String Quartets. It’s interesting and fun and will continue to evolve, we are informed.
2012 April 29. We’ve just posted a spectacular unpublished note from Darius Milhaud to the Pro Arte Quartet about his quartets!
2012 April 26. We just returned from the final week of celebrations of the 100 years of the Pro Arte Quartet. Fittingly, we have now finished listing all its recordings of repertory from the last hundred years. There are a few surprises.
2012 March 25. Happy birthday to us: today marks one year of our documentary quartettistry. We note today, for an obvious reason, that our discography of Béla Bartók’s string quartets may be the biggest available. We’re not finished adding to it, however.
2012 March 18. Complete information has been entered for the oldest almost-continuous string quartet, the Gewandhaus! Its history shows that it’s difficult, sometimes impossible, to determine what a quartet group is. At various times, the Gewandhaus simply did not operate as a single entity of four players, and for a few years after World War II, it didn’t play at all.
2012 January 25. Phase 2 of QuartetWeb has begun! (This is exactly ten months after Phase 1 launched.) It’s now possible for people to register and add information to the site. We expect composers, performers, publishers, agents, researchers, and recording collectors to take an interest.
2012 January 15. For the ultimate in switching parts within a quartet, we suggest the history of the Cecilia Quartet. We thought the personnel listing for them was straightforward, until we were informed otherwise. Three violinists have played Violin I and II, and two of those also played viola in the quartet. (Probably that kind of flexibility is more common than is thought.)
We’ve also concluded (for now) the listing of world premieres by the Madawaska Quartet, thanks to the material lent to us by the Quartet.
2011 December 15. We’re pleased with information on this site that you can’t get anywhere else unless you’ve visited archives, have access to rare material, or have communicated with certain individuals. Examples include the lisitings for quartets by Milton Adolphus and Ben Johnston, the Pro Arte and Fitzwilliam quartets, and many old recordings.
2011 November 25. We’ve added more data in the past month, including information about the eleven quartets of Raimund Weißensteiner, whom almost no one has heard of. He was a composer in Vienna (1905–97) who, in the last two decades of his career, wrote only for smaller forces, having previously written mostly for large orchestra, with or without voices.
Does anyone know if there’s a CD containing any of his string quartets? There were no LPs of them that we knew of.
2011 October 24. We’ve been adding material to the site and working with our web person to improve it. For example, the speed at which certain screens load is much improved, and we’re going for more. A few things must still be done before we can provide submission forms for people to send in data and documents—which remains a high priority.
2011 October 19. We’ve come across references to the American composer Rowan Taylor (1927–2005). Anyone with information about his music is requested to contact us.
2011 June 23. Many people (well, many interested in French chamber music) know that Darius Milhaud wrote 18 quartets, having planned to do so very early in his career. Not many know that he nearly wrote a 19th soon after he had reached his goal.
In 1951, on being commissioned by the Stanley Quartet, he stated that he wanted to write a string quintet. Gilbert Ross, the Stanley’s 1st violinist, explained to him why he preferred a quartet. Just as Milhaud agreed to write Quartet No. 19, Ross acceded to his request for a quintet. That is what Milhaud did write, early in 1952 (with string bass as the fifth instrument).
2011 June 03. After looking at much original source material, we’re now much more knowledgeable about four of the major American groups who have been attached to universities: the Walden, Fine Arts, Pro Arte, and Stanley quartets. Some new information about the members of those groups is now on the site, providing the most accurate details available. We also have complete information about the ambitious commissioning program of the Stanley Quartet, which resulted in 13 new compositions: 3 quintets and 10 string quartets. Two of those are now among the most famous quartets from the last half of the 20th century: Elliott Carter’s 2nd and George Crumb’s Black Angels.
There are notable stories about each (not on the site), especially about the genesis and first performance of the Carter—which wasn’t by the Stanley Quartet.
2011 May 02. We’ve taken care of one language issue that’s been bothering us. Up to now, to search for a name with diacritical signs (accents and the like), you had to type it accurately; Vegh for the string quartet performing group would not find Végh. Now it doesn’t matter. Searching by typing either spelling now returns the correct result Végh.
2011 April 27. We have added a Reference page to gather articles and books that are important general sources of information for specific parts of the website, e.g. books about a composer’s life or works. These references are not online only, rather traditional sources on paper. (A few are also online.) By contrast, the Bibliography presents material that is almost entirely about string quartets of some sort.
Like the other parts of QuartetWeb, these pages will grow.
2011 April 26. Rued Langgaard is now included in the data base! His revisions and changes of title are more frequent than those of any other major composer we can think of. Happily we are guided by the work of the Langgaard expert, Bendt Viinholt Nielsen.
Premieres and recordings to follow.
2011 April 11. We have now listed all the world premieres we have found by the Kairos Quartet. There are 46 of them! with much fascinating music by composers from many countries. The Kairos Quartet thus becomes the first for whom we have listed all the known premieres, including cities and exact dates.
2011 April 07. Re the last item in April 04 (below): the reason why it may take a while to add recordings is the following. We need (of course) the information about the composer, composition, and performing group. Preferably that means the maximum information. In other words, if we find a recording of a composer’s 3rd Quartet, it would look odd in the composer section of the site if you come across only (to take an example) “Anthony Gilbert, Quartet No. 3.” You might well wonder where his other quartets are. Or which country he’s from, etc.
For a performing group, although the name is essential (when there is one), it’s much better to know who the performers are on the recording. That information is not always readily available, even from the recording itself! (That’s an issue especially when the two violinists are known to alternate parts often.) We prefer also to indicate for every group who all the performers have been in it, as well as the country the quartet’s from and when it began.
The site gives equal prominence to string quartet compositions and string quartet groups. You may access premieres and recordings from either.
2011 April 04. Ten days later, it’s hard to recall all the additions. More recordings of Bartók and Shostakovich, certainly, plus many of other composers’ music. We also have all the relevant recordings of the St. Lawrence Quartet listed.
One quartet we’re concentrating on (if slowly) for all relevant premieres and recordings is the Penderecki, because their archive is nearby. We have just about all their recordings listed, and probably all their premieres, from the past eight years. The Quartet kindly lent us many boxes of material to get information from, in return for which we arranged the material in binders. Now we have the other half of their archive, with which we will do the same.
Adding recordings to this website is harder than it may seem. We explain why in the next entry, above.
2011 March 26. After the site was launched, on March 25, 2011, some significant additions were made. Malcolm MacDonald, the expert on John Foulds, noted that Foulds’ music wasn’t on the site. We remedied that in short order. Mr. MacDonald has also been very helpful in discussions about the music of Robert Gerhard and Arnold Schoenberg.