Quartet in G minor for 2 Violas and 2 Violoncelli


1.  Allegro energico

2.  Andante un poco adagio

3.  Menuetto:  Allegro

4.  Presto

Style:  Late Classical, ca. 1790-1800

Composed:  3 August – 6 December, 2018 at Austin

Here they are then,…dearest Friend, these six children of mine. They are, it is true, the fruit of a long and laborious endeavour, yet the hope inspired in me by several Friends that it may be at least partly compensated encourages me, and I flatter myself that this offspring will serve to afford me solace one day.  –W.A. Mozart, Published Letter of Dedication, Six String Quartets to Haydn, 1 September, 1785 

I quote Mozart here because his sentiments are very much my own regarding the Six Quartets I composed last year for 2 Violas and 2 Violoncelli, of which the present posting is but one example; though it is one of the best, choosing it to post from among the others in the set was like choosing a favourite of my children.  Though Mozart expresses himself with a humility uncommon for him, he clearly was proud of his work, as I am of mine.  Indeed, I consider my Quartets to be my magnum opus to date – the most important and highest quality work I have ever produced, and the crowning achievement of decades as a composer.   

Having researched the matter to some degree, to my knowledge no other composer has attempted a work for this combination of instruments, hence mine are likely unique in the chamber music repertoire.  Despite being unusual, I have found the combination of pairs of violas and ‘cellos, though not without its challenges and limitations, to be very successful and pleasing, and I hope you will agree.  The 1st Viola and 1st ‘Cello take the lead a fair amount of the time, and the instruments also operate in pairs as one might expect, but much of the time the ensemble is a cohesive whole, with all the instruments more or less equal. 

The character of this work is fraught with frenetic energy and angst, particularly in the fast and furious outer movements – even in moments of relative calm, the forward motion is relentless.  The easygoing second movement is a comparative walk in the park, moving leisurely along.  The third movement is a nervous, jumpy minuet, punctuated by forte diminished chords; the Trio alla ghironda (in the style of a hurdy gurdy) is characterized by a harmonized melody in G-Lydian mode in the violas, accompanied by a drone in the ‘cellos for a rustic sound. 

Fun fact about this piece:  I conceived the final Rondo during a Nine Inch Nails set at a rock festival in San Antonio!  And another:  I composed the first half of the opening movement entirely in my head before I began writing it down. 

I’ll be very interested to know what people think of this piece and the combination of these instruments, and I hope listening to it will be a pleasant adventure into a different sound-world.


NOTE:  Since evidently I can only attach 3 files, the score to the Menuetto has been omitted.  

Quartet in G minor for 2 Violas and 2 Violoncelli - 1. Allegro energico.pdf

Quartet in G minor for 2 Violas and 2 Violoncelli - 4. Presto.pdf

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  • Micheal,

    I never suggested you shouldn't go after them, nor that it is permissible to steal online. Only that it happens and that you have more of a leg to stand on doing it the way you do it.

  • This is an example of why the written word is a terrible way to communicate. Sorry. More power to you.

    I assume you have looked into what to do in case of copyright infringement. I have. I'll leave it at that so I won't be misunderstood. 

    None of my posts have been intended to tell you it's not worth it. That's up to you. 

  • Not at all, gentlemen, please discuss!  It's an important subject, and the views expressed have been food for thought - for me and possibly for others.  

  • I hope I haven't chased Michael away from this discussion. I too, believe copyright is important. His statement, that one of the reasons he copyrights some of his works so that they will survive past him, is an interesting one. If I remember correctly, a copyright on this kind of thing is good for 70 years. Then it is fair game. And a violation has to be followed up on within three years. So if someone stole my music 4 years ago, and I just found out about it, what then? I understand it's best to have a lawyer in court to represent you. Could get real expensive before too long. You have to be able to prove loss of income, and damage. All of which seems more worth it if I'm actively pursuing a composition career.

    Again, I'm not saying to not copyright. There's much to consider as far as pros and cons.  

  • I think we all do what we think is best. I really am trying to learn something from you. That's all. 

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