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The Juilliard String Quartet Premieres Two String Quartets by Jörg Widmann in Arizona

Nov. 01, 2021

The Juilliard String Quartet performs the world premiere of Jörg Widmann's String Quartet No. 8 (Study on Beethoven III)  and String Quartet No. 10 "Cavatina" (Study on Beethoven V) on November 17 at the Leo Rich Theater in Tuscon, Arizona.

Of String Quartet No. 8, the composer notes:

"My String Quartet No. 8 is made up of three movements and a fast tempo prevails almost throughout the entire work. The extreme brevity of the opening movement oscillates between rugged unisono passages and cascades of chords. The central movement is a set of variations based on the theme from the first eight bars of my beloved Alla danza tedesca, the enigmatic dance movement from Beethoven’s String Quartet op. 130. I have not written any explicit variations for many years. I feel as though the Beethoven theme has itself gone through a large number of transformations and is already teeming with exceptional rhythmic, melodic and harmonic features. I naturally take great pleasure in immersing myself in my variations with this permanent calling into question of assertions.

Although it has been a long-planned dream of mine to create something from this Beethoven theme, it is actually the final 3rd movement which has become the central and most extended section of the work: a Rondo-Presto which repeatedly becomes caught up, almost ad absurdum, in its own breathless playfulness."

In describing String Quartet No. 10 "Cavatina" (Study on Beethoven V), Jörg Widmann says:

"I consider Beethoven’s String Quartet op. 130 with its Grosse Fuge as the pinnacle of all quartets. In each of the four movements, Beethoven succeeds in re-inventing the archetypal movement forms with equal intensity, meaning that they are consequently nothing like what they once were. My Beethoven Studies (String Quartets 6-10) explore the cosmos of this so very unique quartet to a greater or lesser degree, and in explicit form in this concluding quartet of the cycle. The Cavatina from op. 130 is one of the most emotional movements ever written by Beethoven. Although some of the original material can be recognized in my own Cavatina, I consider it as one of the most personal and freest movements of my entire quartet cycle. This is a free form of ardent singing and flowing, marking the conclusion of the cycle which grappled so vehemently and sensuously with the cosmos of Beethoven’s quartets. Everything hovers … into the open … into free space."

In addition, on November 18-20, Andris Nelsons leads the Boston Symphony Orchestra and trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger in the US premiere of Jörg Widmann's Towards Paradise (Labyrinth VI).

Listen to Jörg Widmann's concerto for trumpet and small orchestra, ad absurdum (2002):
(Jörg Widmann/ad absurdum/Hong Kong Sinfonietta/Sergei Nakariakov, trumpet/Alexander Liebreich)

To learn more about Jörg Widmann, visit:

Jörg Widmann
String Quartet No. 8 (Study on Beethoven III) (2020)
for string quartet

String Quartet No. 10 "Cavatina" (Study on Beethoven V) (2020)
for string quartet

Towards Paradise (Labyrinth VI) (2021)
for trumpet and orchestra
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