String Quartet No. 1 was composed in 2011 for the Lydian String Quartet, ensemble in residence at Brandeis University. The piece is divided into four movements, with two fixed-media études framing the third movement. The third movement features the addition of the soprano voice in a setting of Matthew Arnold's poem, Immortality
, adopting the somewhat unconventional shift in instrumentation used by Schoenberg in his 2nd quartet. The text was chosen after a good deal of the material was written and after most of the ideas of form in the piece were conceived. The poem appealed to me, as it seemed to reflect a certain skepticism about mortal cyclicity (through what I perceive as a rather critical of fundamental religious tropes) that I often encounter when thinking about cyclicity in musical form. I was interested in the possibility for a final movement to feel like it is beginning something new, despite its function as a conclusion to developing musical materials. Ultimately, I thought I could achieve this effect through concluding the development of musical materials in the instrumental parts with newly energized materials in the electronic parts.
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