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The Life of a String Quartet

Posted by on in SMA Musician Profiles
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Performing in a string quartet is unlike many other professions. The hours are often irregular and the work can be emotionally and physically draining. So why do we do it?




String quartets comprise of four unique people with personalities that must equally mesh and deviate. Finding four personalities that can work in close proximity over a long period of time with an intense emotional output is a holy grail for many musicians, often a labour of love. 


Apart from technical details, which as with anything must always be discussed, there is an element of “magic” for lack of a better word that must exist when performing. Beyond the notes on the page, four musicians strive for many goals, including the following: 


  1. To communicate the intention of the music with integrity towards the composer
  2. To communicate every emotion in each section of the music to the audience as well as each other
  3. To communicate with each other on stage with music as the language


These three elements are often what string quartets strive for, and the intimacy that they cultivate between musicians and their audience is unique. 


When you hear your favourite music, there is an emotional and physical reaction to what you are hearing, thus heightening your senses. It is the same with taste, sight and smell. 


So the next time you see a string quartet perform, imagine they are four chefs, four visual artists, four perfumers, striving to inspire you through sound.



The Guarneri String Quartet was founded in 1964. They performed for 45 years together before finally disbanding in 2009. To find out more about life in a String Quartet, check out "Indivisible By Four" authored by Arnold Steinhardt, the First Violinist of the Guarneri String Quartet.