Performance Tuesday, April 2, 2013 | 7:30 PM

Jonathan Biss
Elias String Quartet

Zankel Hall
“What I feel for Schumann goes beyond love and admiration," says Jonathan Biss. “The intensity of his passion for music, and his will to use music as a poetic and personal, yet fully realized and deeply expressive language strike me as the highest aims imaginable for a musician.” On this program, part of his season-long focus on Mozart, Janáček, and Schumann, Biss joins members of the Elias String Quartet for Schumann’s Piano Quartet.

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


  • Jonathan Biss, Piano
  • Elias String Quartet
    ·· Sara Bitlloch, Violin
    ·· Donald Grant, Violin
    ·· Martin Saving, Viola
    ·· Marie Bitlloch, Cello


  • MOZART Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, K. 493
  • JANÁCEK String Quartet No. 2, "Intimate Letters"
  • TIMOTHY ANDRES Piano Quintet (NY Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
  • SCHUMANN Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 47


  • Jonathan Biss

    Jonathan Biss has appeared with the foremost orchestras of North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Widely regarded not only for his artistry and poetic interpretations, but also for his deep musical curiosity, Mr. Biss performs a diverse repertoire that ranges from Mozart and Beethoven through the Romantics to Janáček and Schoenberg, as well as works by contemporary composers such as György Kurtág and commissions from Leon Kirchner, Lewis Spratlan, and Bernard Rands. Mr. Biss has recently embarked on a new project in which he explores Robert Schumann's role in musical history, entitled Schumann: Under the Influence.  The initiative features Mr. Biss and several collaborators around the world performing Schumann's works; music by his notable influences, such as Beethoven, Schubert, and Purcell; and selections from his long list of successors, ranging from Berg and Janáček to Timothy Andres.

    Mr. Biss also has a busy recording career. His releases include an album of Schubert sonatas and two short Kurtág pieces, named by  NPR  as one of the best albums of 2009. His recent albums for EMI won a Diapason d'Or award and an Edison Award. In January 2012, Onyx Classics released the first CD in a nine-year, nine-disc recording cycle of Beethoven's complete sonatas. His recent CD of Schumann and Dvořák piano quintets was made with the Elias String Quartet.

    Mr. Biss studied at Indiana University and at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he was appointed to the piano faculty in 2010. His bestselling e-book, Beethoven's Shadow (published by Rosetta Books in 2011) was the first Kindle Single to be written by a classical musician. He followed it with the e-book A Pianist Under the Influence, a personal introduction to the music of Schumann. His blog-featuring ruminations on music, reflections on his life as a musician, and interviews-can be found at

    More Info

  • Elias String Quartet

    The Elias String Quartet has quickly established itself as one of the most intense and vibrant quartets of its generation. The quartet made its North American debut in March 2012 to great critical acclaim. In addition to a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall, the ensemble was praised in The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer for concerts with pianist Jonathan Biss. The quartet returns to North America for concerts both with and without   Mr. Biss in March 2013.

    The ensemble has been chosen to participate in BBC Radio 3's prestigious New Generation Artists scheme, in addition to receiving a 2010 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award. With the support of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust, the Elias Quartet is embarking on its Beethoven project, learning and performing the complete Beethoven string quartets starting in 2012-2013. The quartet is documenting its journey, learnings, and findings at

    In addition to Mr. Biss, the quartet has performed alongside artists such as Michael Collins, Simon Crawford-Phillips, Ralph Kirshbaum, Alice Neary, Ann Murray, Joan Rogers, Mark Padmore, Roger Vignoles, Michel Dalberto, Peter Cropper, Bernard Gregor-Smith, Ettore Causa, Timothy Boulton, Robin Ireland, Adrian Brendel, and Anthony Marwood, as well as with the Endellion, Jerusalem, and Vertavo quartets.

    In 2012, the ensemble recorded the piano quintets of Schumann and Dvořák with Mr. Biss for the Onyx label, and the quartet's recording of Haydn and Schumann quartets was released in the spring of 2012 on the Wigmore Live label. The group's previous effort on that label-a disc of Mendelssohn, Mozart, and Schubert-was given the BBC Music Magazine Newcomer Award in April 2010. The ensemble's debut recording of Mendelssohn quartets for Sanctuary Classics also received wide acclaim, and its performance of the Op. 80 Quartet was chosen as best recording on BBC Radio 3's Building a Library in September 2009. The quartet has also released a disc of French harp music with harpist Sandrine Chatron for the label Ambroisie, Goehr's Piano Quintet with Daniel Becker for Meridian Records, and a recording of Britten quartets released by Sonimage.

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Pre-concert talk starts at 6:30 PM in Zankel Hall with Jonathan Biss in conversation with Jeremy Geffen, Director of Artistic Planning, Carnegie Hall.


Schumann's String Quartet in C Major K. 465 "Dissonance," IV. Allegro molto
Elias String Quartet
Wigmore Hall

At a Glance

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART  Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, K. 493

The piano quartet was still in its infancy when Mozart made his two seminal contributions to the genre in the mid-1780s. Both works were designed to showcase Mozart's bravura keyboard technique. But unlike his first quartet, K. 478 in G minor, with its dark and stormy opening, the E-flat-Major Quartet ingratiates itself in a way that made it an instant success with listeners and players alike.  

LEOŠ JANÁČEK  String Quartet No. 2, "Intimate Letters"

Young Kamila Stösslová was the spark that ignited the white-hot blaze of compositional activity in the last 10 years of Janáček's life. Their passionate but platonic affair, expressed in hundreds of letters, inspired such masterworks as the operas Kát'a Kabanová  and The Makropulos Affair. Above all, Janáček immortalized his muse in his Second String Quartet, which he described as having been "written in fire."


The young Brooklyn-based composer-pianist Timothy Andres writes music that blends avant-garde elements with broad appeal. Carnegie Hall audiences may remember his appearance two years ago with Brad Mehldau, playing the latter's Rock 'n' Roll Dances. A range of musical and visual influences come into play in Andres's new Piano Quintet, composed especially for Jonathan Biss and the Elias Quartet. 

ROBERT SCHUMANN  Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 47

Schumann might have composed his Op. 47 Piano Quartet as a companion piece to his masterful and enormously popular Piano Quintet, Op. 44. Both works share the "warm" key of E-flat major, and both reflect his intense focus on small ensembles in 1842, which Schumann called his "chamber music year." Clara Schumann pronounced the Piano Quartet "youthful and fresh."

Program Notes
Lead support for Carnegie Hall commissions is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Funding for the Carnegie Hall Live broadcast series is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
This performance is part of Chamber Sessions III.

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