The Guarneri String Quartet
Arnold Steinhardt, violin
In the 2005-06 season, the Guarneri Quartet continued their Metropolitan Museum tradition with a series of six performances for which they invited special guests to perform with them a work by Mozart on each program to celebrate the 250th Birth Anniversary of this illustrious composer. They also kept to a busy schedule of performances throughout the United States as well as their annual tour to Europe. The 2006-2007 season finds them keeping the same busy schedule of U.S performances and an extensive European tour in the winter.
In 2003-04, celebrations included performing a Beethoven cycle during their annual Metropolitan Museum of Art six-concert series, instituted in 1965. In 2004-05, the series included invited special guests, each of whom performed with them in a work by Antonin Dvorak. Founding cellist David Soyer joined his former colleagues to play Schubert's String Quintet in C Major, D. 956 on several occasions as part of these special seasons. In January 2004, the Guarneri received the Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award from Chamber Music America. This is CMA's highest honor, given annually to an individual or ensemble for a lifetime of service and achievement in the field.
In April 2005, one of the culminating events of the Guarneri's Anniversary was a performance in Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, presented by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. In addition to this public performance, there were other events including a round-table discussion and quartet master-class with several young ensembles from leading music institutes. And finally, in May of 2005, Guarneri received the Ford Honors Award from the University Musical Society of the University of Michigan where they have performed thirty times over the past forty years.
In addition to mastering the finest works in the existing quartet repertoire, the Guarneri String Quartet is committed to performing and popularizing works by today's foremost composers. In the 2003-04 season, they gave the first performance of String Quartet No. 5 (In Search of La Vita Nuova) written for them by the award-winning American composer, Richard Danielpour. Mr. Danielpour had previously written a Concerto for String Quartet and Orchesta, commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra and written expressly for the Guarneri String Quartet. It was premiered with the NSO in the Kennedy Center under the direction of Leonard Slatkin in January, 2000 followed by its New York premiere at Carnegie Hall later that same month. In the 2001-02 season, the Guarneri gave the first performances of String Quartet No. 5, written for them by Lukas Foss and this work remains in their active repertoire.
The Quartet has been featured on many television and radio specials, documentaries and educational presentations both in North America and abroad. They have been interviewed by Charles Kuralt on CBS' nationwide television program, Sunday Morning. A full-length film entitled High Fidelity - The Guarneri String Quartet was released nationally, to great critical and public acclaim, in the fall of 1989 (the film was directed and produced by Allan Miller who was also the director/producer of the Academy Award-winning documentary, From Mozart to Mao, which dealt with Isaac Stern's visit to China). The quartet is also the subject of various books including Quartet by Helen Drees Ruttencutter (Lippincott & Crowell, 1980), The Art of Quartet Playing: the Guarneri in Conversation with David Blum (Alfred A. Knopf, 1986) and Arnold Steinhardt's Indivisible by Four: A String Quartet in Pursuit of Harmony (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998).
In 1982, Mayor Koch presented the Quartet with the first New York Seal of Recognition. The Quartet was awarded Honorary Doctorate degrees by the University of South Florida (1976) and the State University of New York (1983). In 1992, the Guarneri String Quartet became the only quartet to receive the prestigious Award of Merit from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters in New York City. The Quartet continues their longstanding series and residency at the University of Maryland where they are on the faculty.
The Guarneri String Quartet has recorded for Surroundedby Entertainment, which released a CD in Spring 2001 of Quartets by Ravel, Debussy and Fauré. Several of its recordings on both RCA Red Seal and Philips have won international awards, including its recent recording of Juan Crisostomo de Arriaga's String Quartet Nos. 1-3 (Philips), which won the 1996 Deutsche Schallplattenkritik Award in Germany. Among its other award-winning recordings are collaborations with such artists as Artur Rubinstein, Pinchas Zukerman; and Boris Kroyt and Mischa Schneider of the Budapest Quartet. They have also recorded on the Arabesque label Mendelssohn's String Quartet No. 3 and its first ever recording of the great Mendelssohn Octet, Op. 20, in a collaboration with the Orion Quartet.