> Praise

Charles Michener
I have never read a more exhilarting account of the mysterious business of making chamber music. . .masterfully done.

-- The New York Observer

From Publishers Weekly
There are few good books written from inside a notable string quartet, and Steinhardt's effort is a charming one. Having been together for 35 years, the Guarneri quartet, with John Dalley, Michael Tree, David Soyer and Steinhardt as first violin, is the oldest American group to have preserved the same membership. With self-effacing modesty (he is the first to insist that the first violin is not necessarily the leader of the group, though he may play a prominent role), Steinhardt describes both his own career and that of the group. He could have been a soloist or a successful orchestral musician, like most chamber players, but chose otherwise. The reasons he givesAthe unwillingness to be regimented, the need for companionship on the road, the closeness to the musicAare cogent ones, but a chamber group with permanent membership is an extraordinary organism all the same. Steinhardt skillfully describes the tensions, the long-running jokes, the arguments, the determinedly separate vacationsAand the ecstasy when all the skills and long hours of practice come together in performances that strike to the heart of some of the most intimate music ever composed. The Guarneri, while not perhaps the most glamorous of American quartets, has well deserved its sturdy longevity, and Steinhardt's book gives an excellent sense of the dynamics that have kept it going. A discography of this much-recorded group would have been a welcome addition.

From Library Journal
The Guarneri String Quartet, formed 35 years ago by Steinhardt, John Dalley, Michael Tree, and David Soyer, may owe its legendary longevity to any number of elements Steinhardt describes in this cheerful, informative chronicle. That they continue to "have fun" playing great music together may be fundamental to their continuance, but Steinhardt's readers will conclude that the aesthetic and intellectual growth such a long, vivacious, trusting association has afforded them is equally important. This is Steinhardt's musical autobiography, but in addition to commentary on the other quartet members and their interaction, it also contains Steinhardt's engaging musings on four-part music in general, amateur string players, and particular pieces of the repertoire. Recordings, a film, articles, and other books document the group's history, but this inside view from its first violinist, filled with new stories told with great happiness, will be welcomed by all who know and love their work. Recommended.?Bonnie Jo Dopp, Univ. of Maryland Lib., College Park

Chamber-music lovers will rejoice in this story of the formation, nurturing, and maturing of the Guarneri String Quartet. First violinist Arnold Steinhardt has written a delightful memoir that radiates the love of music and sense of mutual respect and affection that have kept the Guarneri's players together since the ensemble was founded in 1964. How a famous, extremely busy musician learned to write so well is a mystery, but Steinhardt's style is as engaging and captivating as his playing. After sketching his own and his colleagues' pre-quartet careers, he describes how they choose and rehearse their repertoire and how they resolve their inevitable disagreements--and he even throws light on the inexplicable magic that happens in performance. Steinhardt recounts the pleasures and hardships of traveling and the group's partnership with illustrious guests (notably pianist Artur Rubinstein); he tells musical and personal anecdotes, wryly poking fun at himself and others, but never saying a malicious or derogatory word about anyone. Most remarkably, his discussions of a score are illuminating without becoming too technical. Steinhardt describes the emotional impact of music with a strikingly felicitous, often poetic touch, yet his characterizations resonate with his own experience and avoid the overblown or extravagant. Though it helps to know the music he feels so strongly about, this is a book anyone can enjoy.

--Edith Eisler

The New York Times Book Review, Benjamin Ivry
...Steinhardt is clearly still a fan of music, which gives his story a charm that other, more hardened, accounts might lack.

From Booklist
Since his days at the Curtis Institute of Music, Steinhardt yearned for a career in between that of the orchestral musician and that of the soloist. He found it, after service as assistant concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell, at the Marlboro Festival when he, John Dalley, Michael Tree, and David Soyer played through a Mozart quartet late one afternoon. All were hooked. One of the most democratic quartets, the Guarneri members discuss interpretation at rehearsals, watch one another to keep together, and change as new ideas occur to them. Many humorous stories figure in Steinhardt's breezy account, in which he reveals what happens during rehearsals for a concert, while traveling around the world giving 100 concerts every year, and during the members' summer vacations away from the others. The engaging look into the inner workings of a string quartet that the Guarneri first violinist provides will enlighten as well as entertain both musicians and serious listeners.

Alan Hirsch

Richard Goode
"Arnold Steinhardt's account of the joys and ordeals of a life in chamber music is charmingly written and marvelously entertaining. It is also very touching, because one feels his love of music on every page."


"As one-fourth of what may be the longest-running string quartet in musical history, Arnold Steinhardt is ideally equipped to describe the life and times of a world-renowned musical ensemble. It's a wonderfully informative and entertaining memoir. Please read this book."

--Gary Graffman, Curtis Institute Newsletter

"I enjoyed this tremendously. Arnold Steinhardt's account of the joys and ordeals of a life chamber musi is charmingly written and marvelously entertaining. It is also very touching because one feels his love of music on every page."

--Richard Goode

"The Guaneri Quartet [is] known for the elegance, charm, clarity and passion of their playing, and Steinhardt's writting has all the same virtues."

--Justin Davidson, Newsday

Violinist Steinhardt writes about life with the Guarneri String Quartet, fabled, in part for its longevity (35 years with its founding members). His account is lively and entertaining. He does acknowledge that the three other members might have their own versions of the tale, but of course, they should write their own books.