Performance Tuesday, February 12, 2013 | 7:30 PM

Brentano String Quartet

Zankel Hall
“The Brentano String Quartet is something special,” wrote Paul Griffiths in The New York Times. “Their music making is private, delicate, and fresh, but by its very intimacy and importance it seizes attention.” On this program, the Brentano Quartet String performs playful, jovial works by Haydn and Beethoven, plus a world premiere by Steven Mackey.

The contemporary work on this program is part of My Time, My Music.


  • Brentano String Quartet
    ·· Mark Steinberg, Violin
    ·· Serena Canin, Violin
    ·· Misha Amory, Viola
    ·· Nina Lee, Cello


  • HAYDN String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 33, No. 2, "Joke"
  • STEVEN MACKEY One Red Rose (World Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
  • BEETHOVEN String Quartet in G Major, Op. 18, No. 2


  • Brentano String Quartet

    Since its inception in 1992, the Brentano String Quartet has performed in the world's most prestigious venues to popular and critical acclaim, including Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall in New York; the Library of Congress in Washington, DC; the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam; the Konzerthaus in Vienna; Suntory Hall in Tokyo; and the Sydney Opera House. The quartet had its first European tour in 1997, and was honored in the UK with the Royal Philharmonic Award for Most Outstanding Debut.

    The Brentano String Quartet is known for especially imaginative projects that combine old and new music, such as Fragments: Connecting Past and Present and Bach Perspectives. Among the quartet's latest collaborations with contemporary composers is a piano quintet by Vijay Iyer, a work by Eric Moe (with soprano Christine Brandes), and a viola quintet by Felipe Lara (with violist Hsin-Yun Huang). 

    The quartet has worked closely with other important composers of our time, among them Elliott Carter, Charles Wuorinen, Chou Wen-chung, Bruce Adolphe, and György Kurtág. The quartet has also been privileged to collaborate with such artists as soprano Jessye Norman, pianist Richard Goode, and pianist Mitsuko Uchida.

    The Brentano String Quartet became the first resident quartet at Princeton University in 1999. The quartet is named for Antonie Brentano, whom many scholars consider to be Beethoven's "Immortal Beloved," the intended recipient of his famous love confession. Visit for more information.

    More Info


Beethoven's String Quartet Op. 127, No. 12 in E-Flat Major, I. Maestoso-Allegro
Brentano String Quartet

At a Glance

JOSEPH HAYDN String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 33, No. 2, "Joke"

Prolific and endlessly imaginative, Haydn virtually invented the string quartet as we know it. In the democratic spirit of the Enlightenment, he gradually worked out a style in which all four instruments were more or less equal partners, thus laying the foundation for the carefully balanced quartets of Mozart and Beethoven. Haydn's chamber music style is a compound of elegance and humor, both of which are on display in the "Joke" Quartet, with its radiant slow movement and whimsical Finale.


Few events have seared the modern American memory more lastingly than the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. To mark the 50th anniversary of the tragedy, Steven Mackey has written a three-movement string quartet that interweaves themes of public and private mourning, the "swirling chaos" of the unfolding crisis, and the quiet dignity of the president's bereaved widow. The work takes its name from a blood-soaked rose retrieved from the floor of the presidential limousine.

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN String Quartet in G Major, Op. 18, No. 2

In his six Op. 18 quartets, Beethoven staked his claim to the title of Haydn's and Mozart's successor in the rarefied realm of the string quartet. Indeed, the G-Major Quartet all but challenges Haydn on his own turf, with its mixture of Classical formality and rambunctious high spirits. It may have been this blithe disregard of convention that led a contemporary critic to describe the Op. 18 quartets as "very difficult to perform and not at all popular," a judgment that posterity has overturned.

Program Notes


Composer Steve Mackey discusses One Red Rose, written to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Lead support for Carnegie Hall commissions is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
This concert is made possible, in part, by an endowment fund for young artists established by Mr. and Mrs. Anthony B. Evnin and the A. E. Charitable Foundation.
This performance is part of Chamber Sessions I.