Wednesday, November 13, 7.30PM
Italian Academy of Columbia University
1161 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10027
Illustrated talk by Nicholas Chong
Bartók - String Quartet No. 1
Shostakovich - String Quartet No. 8
Bartók’s First Quartet and Shostakovich’s Eighth show how both composers not only survived traumatic experiences but transformed them into music of inspirational nature. Profoundly hurt when rejected by violinist Stefi Geyer, Bartók turned inwards, weaving music from a ‘Stefi’ motif that passes from grief to energetic folk-inspired resolution. Half a century later, guilt-ridden at having been pressurized into joining the Communist Party, Shostakovich wrote his Eighth Quartet as a kind of epitaph for himself, filling it with quotations from his own works. Yet this is music that says ‘we’ as much as ‘I’, and its sense of urgent communication has made it one of the most popular of all twentieth-century chamber works. Both quartets reveal much about how confrontation with darkness can ultimately lead back to the light.
NB The painting in our banner is Evening on Karl Johan Street (1892) by Edvard Munch (1863–1944)