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International String Quartet at La Cúpula

Sat., April 22, 2017 @ 8:00 pm


Tickets available at La Cúpula. Previous concerts here have sold to capacity, which is limited.

Program notes: 

Tarantella by Irwin Shulhoff

Erwin Schulhoff was a Czech composer and pianist. He was born in Prague into a German-Jewish family. Antonín Dvořák encouraged Schulhoff’s earliest musical studies, which began at the Prague Conservatory when he was ten years old. Later, his composition teachers included Claude Debussy and Max Reger. He won the Mendelssohn Prize twice, for piano in 1913 and for composition in 1918. Serving on the Russian front in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I, he was wounded and was in an Italian prisoner-of-war when the war finally ended. Returning to Prague in 1923, he joined the faculty of the conservatory in 1929.

He was one of the first generation of classical composers to find inspiration in the rhythms of jazz music. Schulhoff also embraced the avant-garde influence of Dadaism in his performances and compositions. Due to his ancestry, and avant-garde compositions, his works were labeled degenerate and blacklisted by the Nazi regime. He could no longer teach, give recitals or have his works performed publicly. Then in June of 1941, Schulhoff was rounded up and deported to the Wülzburg concentration camp in Weißenburg, Bavaria. He died there on 18 August 1942 from tuberculosis.

String Quartet No. 1 Opus 49 by Dimitri Shostakovich (1906 – 1975)

Dmitri Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 1 in C major (Op. 49) was composed in six weeks during the summer of 1938. In it, the composer seems to have discovered a new kind of distinctly Russian neoclassicism. The tone is chiefly optimistic, although the minor-keyed inner movements provide a contrast. In the traditional style of the string quartet, the work has four movements.

String Quartet No. 1 by Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887 – 1959)

Villa-Lobos’ String Quartet No. 1 is the first of seventeen string quartets he composed in his lifetime. Written in his native Brazil in 1915 and extensively revised in 1946, it is one of his most enduring works. Of special note is the second movement called “Brincadera” or “joke” and the melancholia and last movement which originate passages later to be used in the composer’s Bachianas Brasileiras.

String Quartet No. 4 by Grazyna Bacewicz

Grazyna Bacewicz was a Polish composer and violinist who achieved national and international recognition. Born in Łódź, her father and her brother Vytautas, (also a composer though less well known) identified as Lithuanian and used the last name Bacevičius; her other brother Kiejstut identified as Polish. Her father, Wincenty Bacewicz, gave Grażyna her first piano and violin lessons and in 1928 she began studies at the Warsaw Conservatory. She continued her education in Paris, having been granted a stipend by Ignacy Jan Paderewski to attend the École Normale de Musique, and studied there with Nadia Boulanger along with fellow students Aaron Copland, Astor Piazzolla and so many others.

She returned briefly to Poland to teach in Łódź, but went back to Paris in 1934 in order to study violin with the renowned Hungarian violinist Carl Flesch. During World War II, Grażyna Bacewicz lived in Warsaw. She was principal violist of the Warsaw Philharmonic and continued to compose, giving underground secret concerts to raise money for the resistance movement. Following the Warsaw uprising, she escaped the destroyed city with her husband and infant daughter.

After the war, she took up the position of professor at the State Conservatoire of Music in Łódź. At this time she was shifting her musical activity towards composition, drawn by her many awards and commissions. Composition finally became her only occupation from 1954 onward.

Many of her compositions feature the violin. Among them are seven violin concertos, five sonatas for violin with piano, three for violin solo, seven string quartets, and two piano quintets. Musicologist Adrian Thomas considered Grażyna Bacewicz’s string quartets “unrivaled” in 20th-century Polish music and… one of the century’s most significant contributions to the genre”. Her folk music infused First Quartet dates from 1938, her student days at the Paris Conservatoire, and displays exceptional polyphonic skill, intense emotion and playful, high spirits.

Metro Chabacano by Javier Alvarez (b. 1956)

Javier Alvarez is one of the best-known Mexican composers of his generation. Many of the works in his prolific oeuvre combine music technology with diverse instruments and influences from around the world. According to composer John Adams, “The music of Javier Alvarez reveals influences of popular cultures that go beyond the borders of our own time and place.” His works have been performed throughout the world by such ensembles as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Mexico City Philharmonic, and the Orchestre National de France among others. After 25 years living in England, he returned to Merida where he became the founding director of the Musical Arts Department of the Escuela Superior de Artes de Yucatán.


Sat., April 22, 2017
8:00 pm
Event Category:


La Cúpula Cultural Center
Calle 54 407B Zona Paseo Montejo, Centro
Merida, Yucatan 97000 Mexico
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999 688 9479
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