String Quartet No. 1 (2004)

Duration: 20:00 minutes

Instrumentation: 2 violins, viola, cello

Premiere: March 13, 2005 at the University of Cincinnati by Nicholas Naegele and Isaac Thompson, violins, Nicholas Jeffery, viola and Andrea Kleesattel, cello


     My first string quartet is a dramatic work in three movements, with all the material derived from the open strings of the instruments. The Prelude opens with a simple drone and fragments of music that is used throughout the piece. The Scene-Recitative alternates between violence and tenderness before an expressive and plaintive cello solo. The Finale makes the most obvious use of the open strings, inspired by a few lines from Wallace Stevens’ Of Modern Poetry: 

                                             The actor is

   A metaphysician in the dark, twanging

   An instrument, twanging a wiry string that gives

   Sounds passing through sudden rightnesses, wholly

   Containing the mind, below which it cannot descend,

   Beyond which it has no will to rise.