A special celebration of the Juilliard String Quartet's 40th anniversary as quartet-in-residence at the Library is a major focus of programming in 2003 by Concerts from the Library of Congress.
"For many years Library concerts have been identified mainly with string quartet performances by our resident quartet," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "And for the past 40 years, that quartet has been the Juilliard. Its principal role has been to give free public concerts on the magnificent Stradivari instruments donated to the Library by Gertrude Clarke Whittall. In addition to their stellar role as first-class artists who never fail to breathe new life into the classical repertoire, the members of the Juilliard have succeeded in creating for themselves and the Library a reputation for fostering new music, some of which has already entered the realm of ‘contemporary classic.'"
Billington added that the Library is now embarking on a new phase in the Juilliard's continuing presence at the Library, in which the members will draw on their other great strength–teaching. They will share the Strads and the stage with artists at the beginning of their performing careers, while serving as artistic and professional mentors to the next generation of chamber artists and their audiences.
"We congratulate the Juilliard String Quartet for all it has given to concertgoers and the Library," Billington said.
Honoring the Juilliard's history as a formidable champion of new American music, a series of anniversary programs will pair works by American masters–Elliott Carter, Gunther Schuller, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Milton Babbitt, and others–with the complete series of 16 string quartets by Ludwig van Beethoven.
Four distinguished American scholars will offer lectures and pre-concert presentations; and open rehearsals, master classes and workshops with the Juilliard are planned as part of the yearlong celebration. Some of these will be videotaped for later use on the Library's Web site.
The Juilliard String Quartet's distinguished association with the Library of Congress began two years after its formation when its founding members–violinists Robert Mann and Robert Koff, violist Raphael Hillyer and cellist Arthur Winograd–gave the Juilliard's debut performance in the Library's Coolidge Auditorium on Dec. 10, 1948. In 1962, the Juilliard succeeded the Budapest Quartet as resident quartet and has presented an annual series of concerts at the Library under the auspices of the Gertrude Clarke Whittall Foundation since that time.
Through nationwide chamber music broadcasts from the Library of Congress, the Juilliard has brought new American repertoire to the broader American music-loving public during the four decades of the Juilliard's tenure. Over the course of its history, the quartet has premiered more than 60 new works by American composers, introducing compositions by such masters as Elliott Carter, Milton Babbitt, Ralph Shapey and Gunther Schuller. It gave the first performances of Bart—k's quartets in the United States. In 1978, the Library of Congress commissioned Henri Dutillieux's "Ainsi la nuit" for the Juilliard. The quartet's current members–violinists Joel Smirnoff and Ronald Copes, violist Samuel Rhodes and cellist Joel Krosnick–continue this unflagging commitment to new music.
"The Juilliard has made a unique contribution to contemporary and classical music with their performances and recordings of Bart—k, Schoenberg, Beethoven, Debussy and Ravel," said Jon Newsom, chief of the Library's Music Division. "Nobody else comes close to the Juilliard in being able to cover this repertoire with such dedication and artistry."
For more than half a century, the Juilliard String Quartet has been an American institution of international repute. As performers, educators and nurturers of new American compositions, the quartet's artists have been a major influence on the development of higher string performance standards in the United States and have been an inspiration to a host of new string quartets.
In 1996, the quartet became the first chamber ensemble honored by Musical America as "Musicians of the Year." "The Juilliard String Quartet is America's quartet," wrote critic Market Swed. "It is the first American quartet to be intimately tied not just to music of its time but to music of its place–to American music."
To mark this milestone anniversary, the Verna and Irving Fine Fund in the Library of Congress has commissioned Richard Wernick to write a work for string quartet and horn, to be premiered by the Juilliard Quartet and William Purvis in April.
Under the auspices of the Irving Caesar Lifetime Trust, the Juilliard String Quartet presented a string seminar for young professional quartets in a joint program sponsored by the Library and the Smithsonian Institution in January 2001. Other educational activities by the quartet as master teachers include a continuing series of master classes at the Levine School of Music in Washington, D.C.
The 40th anniversary celebration began on Dec. 18, 2002, with the Juilliard and the Avalon String Quartet performing Mendelssohn's Octet in E-flat Major, op. 20. The Juilliard will also play Ruth Crawford Seeger's String Quartet and Beethoven's String Quartet, op. 18, no. 1.
Tickets for the Library's concerts are available through Ticketmaster at (301) 808-6900, (410) 752-1200 or (800) 551-7328. Although the supply of tickets may be exhausted, there are often empty seats at concert time. Interested patrons are encouraged to come to the Library by 6:30 p.m. on concert nights to wait in the standby line for no-show tickets.
The Coolidge Auditorium is located on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. For further information about Concerts from the Library of Congress, call the Concert Information Line, at (202) 707-5502, or visit the Web site at www.loc.gov/concerts.
Juilliard String Quartet
40th Anniversary Program at the Library of Congress
December 2002 - December 2003
(All concerts begin at 8 p.m. in the Coolidge Auditorium)
- Dec. 18, 2002 (with the Avalon String Quartet)
Stradivari Anniversary: Seeder: String Quartet; Mendelssohn: Octet in E-flat Major, op. 20; Beethoven cycle (Part I): String Quartet, op. 18, no. 1
- Feb. 12, 2003 (with Gilbert Kalish, piano)
Pre-concert presentation at 6:30 p.m. in the Whittall Pavilion by Pozzi Escot and Robert Cogan of the New England Conservatory; no tickets required. Beethoven: String Quartet, Hess 34 (arrangement of Piano Sonata, op. 14, no. 1); Shapey: "Millennium Designs" for violin and piano (McKim commission); Beethoven cycle (Part I): String Quartet, op. 18, no. 3
- Feb. 14, 2003
Shapey: Quartet no. 10 ("Quartet d'Amore"), Washington premiere; Bee-thoven cycle (Part I): String Quartets, op. 18, nos. 2 & 4
- Feb. 26, 2003 (with Christopher Oldfather, piano)
Schuller: Duologue for violin and piano (McKim commission); Beethoven cycle (Part I): String Quartets, op. 18, nos. 5 & 6
- Feb. 27, 2003
Master class with the Juilliard String Quartet at 7 p.m. at the Levine School of Music; no tickets required. Part of the Lillian R. Spracker Master Class Series. For more information call the Levine School, (202) 686-9772.
- Feb. 28, 2003
Schuller: Quartet no. 4, Washington premiere; Beethoven cycle (Part I): String Quartets, op. 59, nos. 1 & 2
- April 30, 2003 (with William Purvis, French horn)
Wernick: Horn Quintet, world premiere (commissioned by the Verna and Irvin Fine Fund in the Library of Congress); Beethoven cycle (Part I): String Quartets, op. 74 & op. 59, no. 3
- May 1, 2003
Lecture-demonstration with Beethoven scholar Lewis Lockwood and the Juilliard String Quartet at 7 p.m. in the Coolidge Auditorium (no tickets required)
- May 2, 2003
Carter: String Quartet no. 5; Beethoven cycle (Part I): String Quartets, op. 95 & op. 127
- Oct. 22, 2003 (with Christopher Oldfather, piano)
Bach Contrapuncti 1-4 from Die Kunst der Fuge; Babbitt: The Joy of More Sextets (McKim commission; Joel Smirnoff, violin); Beethoven cycle (Part II): String Quartet, op. 130 with Grosse Fuge
- Oct. 24, 2003 (with Charles Neidich, clarinet)
Bartók: String Quartet no. 1; Babbitt: Clarinet Quintet; Beethoven cycle (Part II): String Quartet, op. 131
- Nov. 19, 2003 (with artist TBA, viola)
Beethoven: String Quintet in C Major, op. 29; Beethoven cycle (Part II): String Quartet, op. 132
- Nov. 21, 2003 (with artist TBA, piano)
Haydn: String Quartet TBA; McKim commission TBA: (Ronald Copes, violin); Beethoven cycle (Part II): String Quartet, op. 135
- Dec. 18, 2003 (with Marcy Rosen, cello)
Stradivari Anniversary: Schubert: Quintet in C Major, D. 956; Beethoven cycle (Part II): String Quartet, op. 130 with rondo finale