Program notes

String Quartet (Boy in a Birdcage), opus 26 (1986)

  1. I. Resonato
  2. II. Moderato
  3. III. Presto –– Larghetto (‘Boy in a birdcage’)
  4. IV. Con forza

String Quartet was written in 1986 whilst I was living in London and a postgraduate student at King’s College London on a Commonwealth Scholarship Plan Award. The work is dedicated to my teacher at that time, David Lumsdaine. The four movement work is about 16 minutes duration and was given its premiere in London in 1986 by the Brindisi Quartet and then an Australian premiere in Sydney in 1987 by the Utrecht Quartet.

The first movement is slow and lyrical and draws on unison passages for the full quartet. The fleeting second movement contrasts slow crescendos in individual parts with buoyant group fragments. This movement flows directly into the third movement which has an opening section of fast and playful, scherzo-like motion and then a mysterious Larghetto with the strings muted. This Larghetto has a subtitle, ‘Boy in a birdcage,’ and refers both to a family photo I have of myself as a very young child inside a large aviary – seemingly trying to interact with the birds – and also to the fascination David Lumsdaine had with birds and their calls. His recordings of birdcalls from around the world are quite remarkable. The fourth and final movement of the Quartet is fast and forceful calling on a post-Bartok world of virtuosic speed and energy. String Quartet was revised for a new publication in 2015.

© Andrew Schultz, 2015.


Andrew Schultz –  String Quartet (original version)

Guildhall String Quartet, Australia House London, January 1993 live performance.


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