The Pro Arte Quartet

The Pro Arte Quartet

A Century of Musical Adventure on Two Continents

John W. Barker


University of Rochester Press



An engaging window into a century of musical life, as seen in the history of the Pro Arte String Quartet, first organized in 1912 and still performing today.
First organized in Brussels in 1912 by precocious young Belgian musicians, the Pro Arte String Quartet has survived two world wars and is still performing more than a century later -- a durability unique in the annals of such ensembles. Its membership has included such extraordinary musicians as founding first violinist Alphonse Onnou and his successor, Rudolph Kolisch. The Pro Arte was the first string quartet to be affiliated with an American university, a significant and much-imitated status, and the group continues to function in residence at the University of Wisconsin.

This book traces the Pro Arte Quartet's history from its beginnings to the present, highlighted by portraits of the diverse, fascinating, and colorful personalities, musicians and others, who have been a part of that history. The phases of its repertoires are analyzed, and the legacy of its recordings, many of pioneering significance, is reviewed. As a whole, the volume offers a panoramic window into a century of musical life.

John W. Barker is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of Wagner and Venice (2008) and Wagner and Venice Fictionalized: Variations on a Theme (2012), both available from the University of Rochester Press.

An e-book version of this title is available (9781787441453), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.


30 black and white illustrations
366 pages
9x6 in
Hardback, 9781580469067, October 2017
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MUS020000, MUS023040, MUS006000
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Quartet Contexts
The Onnou Years, I (1912-31)
The Onnou Years, II (1932-40)
The Brosa Years (1940-44)
The Kolisch Years (1944-67)
The Paulu Years, I (1967-79)
The Paulu Years, II (1979-95)
The Perry Years (1995-Present)
Conclusion: Retrospect and Prospects
Appendix A: Benny Goodman and the QPA
Appendix B: Two Novels
Appendix C: The Contemporary Music Project (1984-86)
Appendix D: Commissions, Dedications, Premieres
Appendix E: Discography
Selected Bibliography
Index A: Composers
Index B: General


In this detailed account of the Pro Arte Quartet's 100-year existence, the generous appendices are almost worth the cover price alone...The main text is a meticulously researched chronology, tracing the main phases of the quartet's existence, changes in personnel...interpretative profile, repertoire, concert appearances and recordings...for quartet devotees this is something of a must. BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE

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