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Quartet return to perform controversial work

4 November 2004

String quartet return to perform controversial work

The award-winning Takács Quartet, considered one of the world¹s best string quartets, perform in Wellington and Auckland in November.

On their return tour in New Zealand, the Takács Quartet (Edward Dusinberre, violin; Károly Schranz, violin; Roger Tapping, viola and András Fejér, cello) will perform Haydn's well known and controversial ŒEmperor¹ quartet, one of Bartók's most profound and demanding quartets, and a youthful work by Mendelssohn.

Haydn¹s String Quartet in C Opus 76 No 3 written in 1797 is known as the 'Emperor' quartet. It became controversial for the meaning other people gave it, rather than what the composer intended.

Its second movement was written to be the Austrian national anthem, which it was for a century. Forty years after Haydn¹s death, in 1848, the nationalist poet Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben wrote verses to the tune and in 1922 the Weimer Republic adopted the song¹s first verse as the German national anthem.

Von Fallersleben¹s intention was that the lyrics "Germany, Germany above all, above all else in the world, When it steadfastly holds together offensively and defensively, with brotherhood" should serve as an exhortation for the various regions of Germany to work together. In the 1940¹s, the Nazis gave the verse a new meaning, twisting it into a hymn to military expansionism.

In 1950 the first verse was outlawed and replaced by the old third verse.

On the quartet¹s musical philosophy, viola player Roger Tapping says "We choose pieces we love, and we hope to communicate the music¹s characters and emotions as vividly, deeply and sincerely as possible. We do our utmost to try to imagine exactly what the composer intended Š to be able to have a sense of spontaneity, enjoyment and abandon onstage."

Following their New Zealand concerts, the group will perform in Australia. To celebrate their visit to Australasia, the quartet will release a CD set titled "A Celebration" on the Decca label. The comprehensive four CD set includes Haydn¹s ŒEmperor¹ quartet and Bartók¹s Fourth String Quartet, both of which will be performed by the group in their New Zealand performances.

About the Takács Quartet

The quartet¹s original lineup met in 1975 at the acclaimed Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Hungary ­ not in a practice room, but on a soccer field! Within two years of the group¹s formation, they won First Prize and the Critic¹s Prize at the 1977 Evian International String Quartet Competition.

Since then they have continued to win awards and accolades for their performances and recordings. Their recording of the Beethoven Early Quartets, Opus 18 1-6 won a Grammy award for the Best Chamber Music Album of 2002. They have been Artist in Residence at the University of Colorado in Boulder since 1983.

Performing with long time friends has its advantages says viola player Roger Tapping. "You gradually learn each others¹ musical and technical proclivities, the smallest glance or gesture instantly communicates a musical wish Š of course you gradually acquire a body of shared touring experiences, which provide a fund of humour and shared memories."

The Takács Quartet were last in New Zealand in 2000 to celebrate Chamber Music New Zealand¹s 50th anniversary.

For more information, ph 0800 CONCERT (266 2378) or visit

Chamber Music New Zealand acknowledges major funding from Creative New Zealand.


"If you think quartet music is bloodless and lame, think again." The London Times on Takács Quartet

"Enough sonic electricity to light up Broadway." The Washington Post


HAYDN String Quartet in C Opus 76 No 3 ŒEmperor¹ BARTÓK String Quartet No 4 (1928) Interval MENDELSSOHN String Quartet No 2 in A minor Opus 13


WELLINGTON Thursday 18 November @ 8pm Wellington Town Hall, A reserve $60, B reserve $50 Book at Ticketek (04) 384 3840 (service fees apply)

AUCKLAND Saturday 20 November @ 8pm Auckland Town Hall, A reserve $60, B reserve $50 Book at Ticketek (09) 307 5000 (service fees apply)


Chamber Music New Zealand: Takács Quartet homepage: Decca:


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