String Quartet No. 1

Cover Art by Ashlyn Gehrett

This piece is quite unusual, in my opinion, and very special to me.  I wrote this after being exposed to a series of books titled Composers on Composing, which have essays on the art of composition written by some of the most influential composers I’ve been exposed to (Karel Husa, Frank Ticheli, Robert Kyr).  To say the least, these essays helped me rediscover and reaffirm why I had chosen composition as my major, and why I was doing what I was doing with my life.  My first string quartet came about rather quickly thereafter.

I say this piece is unusual simply because it is the only piece I’ve written that is without a program of any type.  There is just the music.  I wrote the second movement first, and created a rather tight form of ABCA that is based off of three themes.  The main theme, which I refer to as the chant theme, is a melody that hit quite suddenly after watching the movie Serenity at my girlfriend’s house.  Whether it came directly out of that movie (I am unsure because I haven’t seen the movie since then), or came from my imagination, the chant theme became a rather important idea later in the piece.

The next movement to come along was the third movement, which is approximately twice the length in written music than the other two movements together yet only carries about a quarter of the duration of the piece.  I wrote it in about 40 minutes one evening after reworking a few sections of the second movement.  The chant theme was hanging in the air, and became a very prominent motive in this movement, as it arises from the dissonant harmonies and driving rhythm of the quartet.

Finally, I tied the piece together by using a tactic that Frank Ticheli uses in his pieces all the time, where he takes everything the piece is and presents it to the listener, though Ticheli has a way of doing it a little more elegantly than I do.  In this movement, the chant theme is stated first thing by the cello, and is then presented in a canonic form with the first violin.  You will also hear the thematic triplet melody from the third movement repeatedly along with a small splash of the octatonic flavor of the second movement and the eighth note ostinato of the third.  I consider this piece one of my best, because it really comes from me at the height of my excitement of music.

String Quartet No. 1


Score Readable PDF Score of String Quartet No. 1

Upcoming Concerts

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Past Concerts

Kurt Mehlenbacher, composer  

Date Venue City More
05/02/07 Beall Concert Hall, University of Oregon School of Music and Dance Kurt Mehlenbacher, composer in Eugene [+/-]