In the 50 + years of its existence, the ever-evolving institution that is the The Juilliard Quartet has become a living American legend. It has, from the beginning and throughout its career, been recognized for the boldness of its interpretation of the classics, with an equal and parallel tradition of championing the new; a vibrant combination of the familiar and the daring. In a history of "Firsts", the Juilliards have played the American premieres of the six Bartok Quartets, Shostakovich's Quartet no. 15, and Dutilleux's "Ainsi la Nuit" as well as the world premieres of works by more than 60 American composers - in and amongst thousands of performances of the great classics of Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, and Brahms, their own scoring of Bach's Art of the Fugue, complete Beethoven cycles in many capitals of the world, including New York, Tokyo, Bonn, and, most recently, Washington, D.C. where, for more than four decades, they were the Quartet in Residence at the Library of Congress, the celebrated "First Family" of chamber music in the United States. The Juilliard Quartet's sound is famously characterized by clarity of structure, compelling rhythmic drive and an extraordinary unanimity of purpose no matter what the work at hand. "The Juilliard continues to amaze with the freshness and intensity it invariably brings to every corner of its vast repertory." - (New York Times)
October 11, 2006 marks the Juilliard Quartet's 60th anniversary, when a day of nationwide public radio programming will be devoted to interviews with the Juilliards and their discography. A year long celebration follows, landmarks of which will be the Quartet's performance of seven complete Bartok cycles (The Juilliard Quartet played the American premiere of the Bartoks at Tanglewood in 1948) in major cities throughout the U.S. and Japan, beginning with a two concert cycle at Alice Tully Hall in New York in November. In honor of both the Juilliards' 60th birthday and the Shostakovich centennial, Sony BMG Masterworks will release a 2 CD set of the Juilliard Quartet's recordings of Shostakovich quartets Nos. 3, 14, 15 and the Piano Quintet with Yefim Bronfman, due out in October. In addition, the Juilliard Quartet celebrates Mozart's 250th birthday by performing quartets k. 421, k. 428 and k. 465, newly informed by first-edition manuscripts which were donated to the Juilliard School last season. Further touring in America includes concerts in Philadelphia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, Florida, Tennessee, Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, and stops throughout Texas. Abroad, the Juilliard Quartet appears in London at Wigmore Hall, Turkey, The Netherlands, Germany, Russia, Finland, the Palau de la Musica in Barcelona, Spain, and returns to Japan for a two-week tour at the end of the season.
The Juilliard Quartet launched their 2005/06 season with a pair of concerts presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Disney Hall. The Quartet returned to Lincoln Center in New York to play the world premiere of Ezequiel Viao's Quartet II, "The Loss and the Silence," commissioned for them by the Juilliard School in honor of its 2006 centennial. In Europe, the quartet made stops in Salzburg, Vienna, Italy, Holland, Warsaw, and Paris where they performed a pair of concerts featuring their own arrangement of Bach's "Art of the Fugue." While in Salzburg, the Quartet was showcased on National Public Radio's classical music show, "Performance Today," hosted by Fred Child. A highlight of the Juilliard Quartet's European tour included their visit to Madrid, where they played for Queen Sofia of Spain on her matched set of inlaid Stradivari instruments at the Palacio Real. Last Spring, they were featured artists in a "Live From Lincoln Center'" telecast at the Juilliard School's centennial gala program.
Special events of recent seasons included a week of concerts and masterclasses at the University of Southern California, and an Art of the Fugue marathon at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where they performed the Bach masterwork 3 times in two days. The Quartet marked the celebration of its 40th anniversary in 2003 as Quartet in Residence at the Library of Congress in Washington with a twelve-concert complete Beethoven cycle interspersed with works by American composers whose works the Quartet has championed throughout its existence. Succeeding the Budapest Quartet in 1962, the Juilliard Quartet acquired a devoted following in Washington where they performed on a set of priceless Stradivari instruments which were donated to the Library in 1936 by Mrs. Gertrude Clarke Whittall. At Carnegie Hall, the Juilliard Quartet appeared in the Hall's 100th anniversary gala, and in Maurizio Pollini's "Perspectives" series with pianist Martha Argerich. The Juilliards played the opening concert in the Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, and are the lead-off artists in the recent 10th anniversary recording celebrating Ozawa Hall where they appear annually. They have been frequent guests at the Miyazaki Festival in Japan, and at festivals in Europe including the Lucerne Festival and the Schubertiade in Feldkirch. The Juilliard Quartet has played complete seven-concert Beethoven cycles at Alice Tully Hall in New York, Casals Hall in Tokyo, at Michigan State University, and most recently, at the International Beethoven Festival in Bonn and at the Tonhalle in Dusseldorf. In a departure from the classical norm, the Juilliard Quartet has twice been the featured ensemble - comedic and musical - on Garrison Keillor's "Prairie Home Companion" radio show.
As Quartet in Residence at New York City's Juilliard School, the Juilliard String Quartet is widely admired for its seminal influence on aspiring string players around the world. The Quartet continues to play an important role in the formation of new American ensembles, and was instrumental in the formation of the Alexander, American, Concord, Emerson, La Salle, New World, Mendelssohn, Tokyo, Brentano, Lark, St. Lawrence, and Colorado string quartets.
In a momentous occasion at Tanglewood in 1997, the Juilliard String Quartet's founder and first violinist Robert Mann retired from the group after fifty years. Earlier that season, Musical America named the Quartet "Musicians of the Year," making it the first chamber music ensemble ever to appear on the cover of the publication's annual International Directory of the Performing Arts.
In its history, the Juilliard String Quartet has performed a comprehensive repertoire of some 500 works, ranging from the great classical composers to masters of the current century. It was the first ensemble to play all six Bartok quartets in the United States, and it was through the group's performances that the quartets of Arnold Schenberg were rescued from obscurity. An ardent champion of contemporary American music, the Quartet has premiered more than 60 compositions of American composers, including works by some of America's finest jazz musicians. The Quartet has become a persuasive advocate for the complex and visionary string quartets of Elliott Carter, and a landmark recording of those works was issued in 1991
by Sony Classical.
The ensemble has been associated with Sony Classical, in its various incarnations, since 1949. In celebration of the Quartet's 50th anniversary, Sony released seven CDs containing previously unreleased material as well as notable performances from the Quartet's award-winning discography. With more than 100 releases to its credit, the ensemble is one of the most widely recorded string quartets of our time; and its recordings of the complete Beethoven quartets, the complete Schenberg quartets, and the Debussy and Ravel string quartets have all received Grammy Awards. Inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Academy for Recording Arts and Sciences in 1986 for its recording of the complete Bartok string quartets, the Juilliard Quartet was awarded the Deutsche Schallplattenkritik Prize in 1993 for Lifetime Achievement in the recording industry. In 1994, its recording of quartets by Ravel, Debussy, and Dutilleux was chosen by the Times of London as one of the 100 best classical CDs ever recorded.
The Juilliard String Quartet, one of the most influential ensembles in American music, celebrates its 60th anniversary with a new Sony Classical, recording of three string quartets of Dmitri Shostakovich.
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Crossover Media Projects with: Juilliard String Quartet