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anniversaries April 29
The sweet old Amati! The divine Stradivari! Played on by ancient maestros until the bow hand lost its power, and the flying fingers stiffened. Bequeathed to the passionate young enthusiast who made it whisper his hidden love, and cry his inarticulate longings, and scream his untold agonies, and wail his monotonous despair. Passed from his dying hand to the cold virtuoso, who let it slumber in its case for a generation, till, when his hoard was broken up, it came forth once more, and rode the stormy symphonies of royal orchestras, beneath the rushing bow of their lord and leader. Into lonely prisons with improvident artists; into converts from which arose, day and night, the holy hymns with which its tones were blended; and back again to orgies, in which it learned to howl and laugh as if a legion of devils where shut up in it; then, again, the gentle dilettante, who calmed it down with easy melodies until it answered him softly as in the days of the old maestros; and so given into our hands, its pores all full of music, stained like the meerschaum through and through with the concentrated hue and sweetness of all the harmonies which have kindled and faded on its strings. Oliver Wendell Holmes

Joan Tower, Night Fields (for string quartet)

October 18th, 2015

Joan Tower, 1938

Night Fields, for String Quartet, 1994

Joan Tower“Night Fields, my first string quartet, is dedicated with affection and admiration to the Muir String Quartet. The title came after the work was completed and provides an image or setting for some of the moods of the piece: a cold windy night in a wheat field lit up by a bright full moon where waves of fast-moving colors ripple over the field, occasionally settling on a patch of gold.”

– Joan Tower

Joan Tower is a contemporary American composer, now in her late seventies, who has been called the most successful women composer of all time. Starting with her orchestral tone poem “Sequoia” in 1981, Tower has become one of the most frequently performed composers around the world. While some may bristle at the ostensibly patronizing qualification, “woman” composer, Tower herself has spoken of the tremendous challenges she faced as a young woman in a male-dominated academia fixated on the achievements of what she refers to as the “DWEMS” (Dead White European Males). In this respect, Tower’s success is particularly gratifying. « more »

Exploring the String Quartet—The First 250 Years

Exploring the String QuartetSince its birth around 1760, the string quartet has maintained a vital and profound hold on composers, players and listeners: it has been the vehicle par excellence for a rich continuum of some of the finest music composed throughout the last 250 years. Across time, nationality, and centuries of changing style, the string quartet has formed the backbone of small ensemble chamber music with a rich lore. Music for the string quartet consistently features lyrical beauty, complex harmony, intense passion, powerful rhythm and elegant formal design. From the most intimate personal expression to the most brilliant virtuosity, from the ancient and otherworldly to edgy grooves of the present day, the string quartet appears to be an infinitely flexible ensemble engaging great composers and performers in one of the richest living traditions of music in all of history. For many, if not most, however, it a rarely encountered “hidden” genre, while historically, culturally, musically, for others, it is the mother lode. Take some time to discover this stunning genre, the heart of the matter. Explore

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earsense celebrates and explores how music makes "sense" with a focus on the extraordinary genre of chamber music. The centerpiece of earsense is a comprehensive database of chamber music composers, works, events and related media.


Works 39,666
Works with details 11,606
Composers 3,518
Women Composers 312
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