Emerson String Quartet

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Emerson String Quartet
The Emerson String Quartet 2014.jpg
The Emerson String Quartet in 2014
Background information
Also known asThe Emerson Quartet
Origin New York City, United States
Genres Classical
Occupation(s) String quartet
Instruments2 violins, 1 viola, 1 cello
Years active1976–present
Labels Deutsche Grammophon, New World, Sony Classical
Website www.emersonquartet.com
MembersEugene Drucker
Philip Setzer
Lawrence Dutton
Paul Watkins
Past membersGuillermo Figueroa
Eric Wilson
David Finckel

The Emerson String Quartet, also known as the Emerson Quartet, [1] is a professional string ensemblein residence at the Stony Brook University.[ when? ] [2] During the 1980s [3] the musical ensemble was in residence at The Hartt School located in West Hartford, Connecticut. [4] Choosing American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson as namesake, the quartet formed at the Juilliard School as a student ensemble. They turned professional in 1976, with both of their violinists having studied under the tutelage of the renowned Oscar Shumsky, alternating as first and second violinists. When it was formed, the Emerson Quartet was one of the first with the two violinists alternating chairs. [5]

String instrument musical instrument that generates tones by one or more strings stretched between two points

String instruments, stringed instruments, or chordophones are musical instruments that produce sound from vibrating strings when the performer plays or sounds the strings in some manner.

Musical ensemble group of people who perform instrumental and/or vocal music, with the ensemble typically known by a distinct name

A musical ensemble, also known as a music group or musical group, is a group of people who perform instrumental or vocal music, with the ensemble typically known by a distinct name. Some music ensembles consist solely of instruments, such as the jazz quartet or the orchestra. Some music ensembles consist solely of singers, such as choirs and doo wop groups. In both popular music and classical music, there are ensembles in which both instrumentalists and singers perform, such as the rock band or the Baroque chamber group for basso continuo and one or more singers. In classical music, trios or quartets either blend the sounds of musical instrument families or group together instruments from the same instrument family, such as string ensembles or wind ensembles. Some ensembles blend the sounds of a variety of instrument families, such as the orchestra, which uses a string section, brass instruments, woodwinds and percussion instruments, or the concert band, which uses brass, woodwinds and percussion.

Stony Brook University public university in Stony Brook, New York, United States

The State University of New York at Stony Brook, commonly known as Stony Brook University (SBU) and SUNY Stony Brook, is a public sea-grant and space-grant research university in Stony Brook, New York. It is one of four university centers of the State University of New York system.


The Emerson Quartet was inducted into the Classical Music Hall of Fame in 2010. [6] As of May 2014, they have released more than thirty albums and won nine Grammy Awards, as well as the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize. [7] [8] [9]

American Classical Music Hall of Fame and Museum Classical music museum in Cincinnati, Ohio

The American Classical Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a non-profit organization celebrating past and present individuals and institutions that have made significant contributions to classical music—"people who have contributed to American music and music in America", according to Samuel Adler. The project was founded in 1996 by Cincinnati businessman and civic leader David A. Klingshirm and inducted its first honorees in 1998.

Grammy Award accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States

A Grammy Award, or Grammy, is an award presented by The Recording Academy to recognize achievements in the music industry. The annual presentation ceremony features performances by prominent artists, and the presentation of those awards that have a more popular interest. The Grammys are the second of the Big Three major music awards held annually.

The Avery Fisher Prize is an award given to American musicians for outstanding achievement in classical music. Founded by philanthropist Avery Fisher in 1974, it is regarded as one of the most significant awards for American instrumentalists. The award is decided by members of the Avery Fisher Artist Program, which is administered by the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; artists do not apply, and nominations are secret. Initially accompanied by an award of US$10,000, recent years have seen the cash allotment increase to US$75,000.


Violin bowed string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths

The violin, sometimes known as a fiddle, is a wooden string instrument in the violin family. Most violins have a hollow wooden body. It is the smallest and highest-pitched instrument in the family in regular use. Smaller violin-type instruments exist, including the violino piccolo and the kit violin, but these are virtually unused. The violin typically has four strings tuned in perfect fifths, and is most commonly played by drawing a bow across its strings, though it can also be played by plucking the strings with the fingers (pizzicato) and by striking the strings with the wooden side of the bow.

Lawrence Dutton is an American violist, and a member of the Emerson String Quartet. He earned a bachelor's and master's degree from the Juilliard School where he studied with Lillian Fuchs.

Viola bowed string instrument

The viola (; Italian pronunciation: [ˈvjɔːla]) is a string instrument that is bowed or played with varying techniques. It is slightly larger than a violin and has a lower and deeper sound. Since the 18th century, it has been the middle or alto voice of the violin family, between the violin (which is tuned a perfect fifth above) and the cello (which is tuned an octave below). The strings from low to high are typically tuned to C3, G3, D4, and A4.

Long-time cellist David Finckel was replaced at the end of the 2012/13 concert season by Paul Watkins. [10] Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim of The New York Times wrote:

David Finckel American cellist

David Finckel is an American cellist and influential figure in the classical music world. The cellist for the Emerson String Quartet from 1979 to 2013, Finckel is currently the co-artistic director of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York, co-founder of the independent record label ArtistLed, co-artistic director and founder of Music@Menlo in Silicon Valley, co-artistic director of Chamber Music Today in Seoul, Korea, producer of Cello Talks, professor of cello at the Juilliard School, and visiting professor of music at Stony Brook University.

Paul Watkins is a Welsh classical cellist and conductor. His brother is the composer Huw Watkins. Watkins studied cello with William Pleeth, Melissa Phelps and Johannes Goritzki. In 1988, he won the BBC Young Musician of the Year in the string section. From 1990 to 1997, he was principal cellist of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

<i>The New York Times</i> Daily broadsheet newspaper based in New York City

The New York Times is an American newspaper based in New York City with worldwide influence and readership. Founded in 1851, the paper has won 125 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper. The Times is ranked 17th in the world by circulation and 2nd in the U.S.

One of the characteristics of the Emerson Quartet is that its players (the violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer and the violist Lawrence Dutton in addition, now, to Mr. Watkins) all have the ability and the instruments to produce a sweet and glossy sound — but do so sparingly. Instead, they establish a chromatic scale of timbres that range from dry and tart over clean and zesty all the way to lustrous and singing. Listening to them pass tiny rhythmic motifs around the group, I was struck by how evenly calibrated these timbres were. [11]


Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: The “old” Emerson String Quartet never phoned one in. But this new group — Mr. Watkins alongside the violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer, and the violist Lawrence Dutton — complemented their customary power, finesse and unanimity with a fresh, palpable vigor at Tully, and it was electrifying. [12]

Awards and recognition

Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance :

Grammy Award for Best Classical Album :

In 2002 the Quartet were the Music Directors of the Ojai Music Festival. They also played for the Oscar nominated short film, The Little Match Girl. They have also won the Avery Fisher Prize, and in 2010, were inducted into the Classical Music Hall of Fame, with a ceremony held in 2011. [7] In January 2015, the Quartet received the Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award, the highest award in the classical chamber music world. [13]


See also

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  9. Dischel, Robert S. (2000). Converging Lines: The Extraordinary Story of the Emerson String Quartet's First 25 Years. London: Risk Waters Group. ISBN   1-899332-68-5.
  10. "Emerson String Quartet Announces Departure Of Cellist David Finckel | Emerson String Quartet". Emersonquartet.com. February 14, 2012. Retrieved March 10, 2012.
  11. da Fonseca-Wollheim, Corinna (August 22, 2013). "The Emerson Quartet Plays the Mostly Mozart Festival". New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  12. Smith, Steve (March 25, 2014). "Emerson String Quartet Plays Shostakovich at Tully Hall". NY Times. New York Times. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  13. "Emerson String Quartet Set to Receive Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award". Emerson String Quartet. Retrieved January 16, 2015.