Intimate Voices: The Twentieth-Century String Quartet

November 2009
656 pages
Eastman Studies in Music
ISBN: 9781580463409
Format: Hardback
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MUS005000, MUS020000, MUS050000

Intimate Voices: The Twentieth-Century String Quartet

2-volume SET

Edited by Evan Jones

Leading authorities explore, in direct and accessible language, chamber-music masterpieces by twenty-one prominent composers since 1900.
Two volume set: Modern composers as diverse as Béla Bartók, Maurice Ravel, Benjamin Britten, and John Cage have confided some of their most personal and intense thoughts to the medium of the string quartet. The resulting repertoire has won the allegiance of string players and of listeners in the concert hall and at home. Yet, until now, no book has addressed the language of these remarkable works, their interactions with the masterpieces of Beethoven and others, and their new approaches to musical expression. Intimate Voices, organized in rough chronological order, offers the observations and intuitions of twenty leading authorities on quartets by twenty-one composers from eleven countries. Its two volumes -- available separately or together -- comprise an indispensable guide to amateur and professional chamber musicians, scholars, students, and anyone seeking a deeper acquaintance with the great achievements of twentieth-century music.

Edited by Evan Jones, Associate Professor of Music Theory, Florida State University College of Music

Contents and authors:
Volume 1: Debussy and Ravel (Marianne Wheeldon); Sibelius (Joseph Kraus); Bartók (Joseph N. Straus); Hindemith (David Neumeyer); Schoenberg (Matthew R. Shaftel); Berg (Dave Headlam); Webern (David Clampitt); Villa-Lobos (Eero Tarasti); Prokofiev (Neil Minturn)

Volume 2: Shostakovich [Patrick McCreless]; Britten [Christopher Mark]; Ligeti [Jane Piper Clendinning]; Berio [Richard Hermann]; Xenakis [Evan Jones]; Scelsi [Eric Drott]; Cage [David W. Bernstein]; Babbitt [Andrew Mead]; Carter [Jonathan W. Bernard]; Mel Powell [Jeffrey Perry]; Shulamit Ran [Robert W. Peck]


In November 2010 Intimate Voices won the Society for Music Theory's Citation of Special Merit. This citation is awarded to "editions, translations, reference works, or edited volumes of extraordinary value to the discipline." The citation states: '[Intimate Voices] examines the string quartets of composers from Claude Debussy through Shulamit Ran, and including those of Berg, Bartok, Schoenberg, Prokofiev, Ligeti, Cage, Britten, Carter, Berio, and others. The twenty different contributing authors provide multiple analytical voices, resulting in a contrapuntal conversation much like the string quartet medium under review.

Superb. . . . A unified and eminently readable narrative. . . . The most thorough, authoritative and comprehensive study of modern chamber music. . . . Standards of production are up to the publisher's usual high standards. . . . Each contributor skilfully, sensitively and intelligently . . . sets the music s/he is considering in the widest historical and musical context. . . . Useful reading for players as well as listeners, composers and others. CLASSICALNET [Mark Sealey] Read the complete review at

A magnificent sweep through many key works in twentieth-century musical history. JOURNAL OF THE SOCIETY FOR MUSIC IN IRELAND [Michael Russ] See full review at

Intimate Voices takes us on a kaleidoscopic ride through a century of string quartets. Players, historians, and theorists alike will appreciate the deeply musical commitment of twenty major writers exploring this medium, from Debussy to modern American, with composers such as Bartók and Scelsi in the same optic, through evidence-based music analysis in a social context. It is a Herculean project, superbly executed by editor Evan Jones. --Jonathan Dunsby, Professor of Music Theory, Eastman School of Music

A broad collection of serious essays about music in a medium that is very much alive. . . . There is something here for everyone, not just specialists in musical analysis. . . . It is also good that the work of several composers whose quartets are not often heard-Carter's, Scelsi's, Powell's, and Ran's-are brought to our attention. . . . Each [essay] has something interesting to say about the medium and the music and how we can talk about it. FANFARE

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