A person attending a string quartet expects to see four chairs—two for the violins, one each for the viola and cello. According to the Esterhàzy Quartet, though, there is also a fifth chair. This chair, an invisible but felt presence, is called into being by the synergy of the sounds of four instruments and the efforts of four musicians whose skill, dedication, and connectedness make the music possible. The Esterhàzy Quartet, the University of Missouri’s String Quartet-In-Residence brings this “composite voice” alive in their performing and teaching on the Mizzou campus and across the globe.
Despite being limited to four instruments, the string quartet’s repertoire is renowned for its depth and richness. Here, members of the Quartet articulate what draws them to the music and why they think it is so powerful.
While a string quartet contains four instruments, members of the Esterhàzy Quartet describe what they call the “fifth chair,” the dynamic interaction of the musician, music, and performance.
The Quartet continues the rich historic tradition of collaboration with composers and demonstrates their commitment to 20th and 21st century by collaborating with modern composers James Willey and Samuel Adler.
The Esterhàzy Quartet travels to the Berklee School of Music in Boston to work with students composing for the string quartet. Students are selected by contest and have the opportunity for feedback from a professional ensemble.
One important skill a student quartet member must learn is how to perform with fellow members of the quartet. Key to that is learning how to rehearse.
The group performs James Willey’s 8th Quartet, which was composed for the Esterhàzy Quartet.