In 2019-20, the Miró Quartet will recreate three concert programs from the past celebrating 250 years of the string quartet, along with their own 25th anniversary.
As the Miró Quartet nears its 25th anniversary and the world celebrates Beethoven’s 250th, we decided to take a look back at our past, our roots, and our lineage, and to ask ourselves how we got to where we are today; what mentors helped us; what pieces, performers, and performances over the last twenty-five years helped to shape us as artists. The more we asked these questions about our Miró Quartet history, the clearer it became to us that our roots went back much further than those twenty-five years. We are part of a long and continuous history that directly and indirectly connects us to a long sequence of performers stretching back decades and decades, many of whom we have never met and some of whom we have worked with closely. One direct connection is between our violist John Largess, who studied with Eugene Lehner of the Kolisch Quartet in his early years. Our "quartet ancestors," we realized, were a diverse group of great American artists who created the musical world we live in. We also realized that most listeners today don't know much, if anything, about these exciting quartets from our nation's past, and we were surprised to learn some of our fellow artists had no idea that there had been these great internationally touring string quartets in America as early as the 1890s. We felt it was our responsibility to share their stories as well as their invaluable contributions to our musical heritage.
Looking back through history – reading newspaper articles and reviews, letters, and books from a century ago – we gradually arrived on a picture of three distinct time periods in America and three ensembles who represented those periods: the Kneisel Quartet, the first truly American quartet; the Flonzaley Quartet, the first modern recording quartet; and the Kolisch Quartet, the first American quartet devoted to contemporary music. As we researched these eras and ensembles, the diversity of repertoire and variety of formats in their concerts began to really excite us. We chose these three programs particularly because they are all very different from what you would generally see today on the concert stage, and they distinctly exemplify each era they represent. Each program was also performed in one of the great chamber music halls or on a series that still presents chamber music today. Together these three programs allow us to tell the story of chamber music in America from its early beginnings up until the present day.
And thus the Quartet Archive Project was born: to tell the story of the Miró Quartet, to tell the story of the string quartet as a genre in America, and to tell the story of the great halls and ensembles of America's past that have made it possible for us to be playing this great music for you today. Rediscover America's chamber music past with the Miró Quartet Archive Project!