String quartet (1979) | Catalogo musica flows
Morton Feldman’s String Quartet (1979) follows over a decade of compositional activity where the composer was constantly occupied with a new piece for orchestra. In the eleven years before the Quartet he produced fifteen orchestral works, beginning with On Time and the Instrumental Factor (1969) up to Violin and Orchestra (1979). In the following eight years only three orchestral works were written, The Turfan Fragments (1980), Coptic Light (1986) and For Samuel Beckett (1987). With the String Quartet, Feldman’s attention turned almost exclusively to chamber music, and particularly, to the long piece. This change, however, was not made without a certain degree of uncertainty. The String Quartet was first performed on 4th May, 1980, by the Columbia Quartet at the Drawing Center in New York City. The performance lasted well over one and a half hours, hence the nick-name of “100 minutes” by which this piece is known. A repeat performance by the same group took place a month later during June in the Buffalo Festival. At this point Feldman seems to have hesitated, for when he returned to composing he created three works of more or less conventional length. It was not until after the first West Coast performance of the Quartet, almost a year later, that he returned to explore the long piece. The overseventy- minute Untitled Composition for cello and piano, was completed shortly thereafter, and finally, the success of Triadic Memories for solo piano, dated 23rd July, 1981, committed him fully to this new direction.