The Emerson String Quartet
Eugene Drucker, violin; Philip Setzer, violin; Lawrence Dutton, viola; David Finckel, cello
The Emerson String Quartet stands alone in the history of string quartets with an unparalleled list of achievements over three decades: over thirty acclaimed recordings since 1987, nine Grammy® Awards (including two for Best Classical Album, an unprecedented honor for a chamber music group), three Gramophone Awards, the coveted Avery Fisher Prize and cycles of the complete Beethoven, Bartók, Mendelssohn and Shostakovich string quartets in the world’s musical capitals. The Quartet has collaborated in concerts and on recordings with some of the greatest artists of our time. In 2000, the Emerson was named "Ensemble of the Year" by Musical America, and, in March 2004, became the 18th recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize.
In March 2011, Sony Classical announced an exclusive agreement with the Emerson String Quartet. The Quartet's debut album for the label was released in October 2011 to coincide with a series of concerts at Wigmore Hall in London and Alice Tully Hall in New York City. In June 2012, the Emerson embarked on their first tour of China which included sold-out performances in Shenzhen, Tianjin and Beijing. In 2012-2013, its 36th season as an ensemble, the Emerson performs extensively throughout North America, highlighted by a concert in Carnegie Hall's Isaac Stern Auditorium with pianist Yefim Bronfman, cellist Colin Carr and violist Paul Neubauer. European engagements take the Quartet to the Canary Islands as well as to Paris, Moscow, Salzburg, Vienna, Copenhagen, Munich, Perugia and London. The Emerson continues its series at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, for its 33rd season. Journeys, an album of Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence and Schoenberg’s Verklaerte Nacht is slated for release by Sony in March of 2013.
Of the multiple highlights and extraordinary projects accredited to the Emerson Quartet, several milestone achievements stand out:
- In both 1981 and 1988, the Quartet attracted national attention with the presentation of the six Bartók quartets in a single evening, first at Lincoln Center and later for its Carnegie Hall debut. The Emerson’s recording of the cycle received the 1989 Grammy® Awards for “Best Classical Album” and “Best Chamber Music Performance” and Gramophone Magazine’s 1989 “Record of the Year Award” – the first time in the history of each award that a chamber music ensemble had ever received the top prize.
- In March 1997, the Quartet released a seven-disc set of the complete Beethoven quartets and presented a sold-out series of performances over two seasons at New York’s Lincoln Center entitled “Beethoven and the Twentieth Century.” The Beethoven recording earned a Grammy® Award for “Best Chamber Music Album.”
- In 2000, the Emerson performed the complete Shostakovich quartets at Lincoln Center in New York and in London, in a cycle divided between the Wigmore Hall and the Barbican. Each series culminated with The Noise of Time, a theatrical presentation directed by Simon McBurney featuring the Quartet and Complicité, Mr. McBurney’s theater company. Since 2001, The Noise of Time has been repeated in Los Angeles, Berlin, Vienna, Paris and Moscow. The five-disc set won the 2000 Grammy® Awards for “Best Classical Album” and “Best Chamber Music Performance,” as well as Gramophone Magazine’s “Best Chamber Music Performance” Award for 2000. In 2008, New York Magazine named The Noise of Time one of the most important contributions to the arts in New York since the inception of the magazine.
- In 2007, the Quartet celebrated 30 years of activity and 20 years as exclusive Deutsche Grammophon recording artists with a historic nine-concert Perspectives series in Isaac Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, titled Beethoven In Context. The series, which spanned three centuries of repertoire, received an overwhelming response and nine outstanding reviews in The New York Times.
- Since 2002, the Emerson has been Quartet-in-Residence at Stony Brook University. Prior to that time they were affiliated for twenty years with the Hartt School of Music. The Emerson has had a residency at The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC for 32 seasons.
Formed in the bicentennial year of the United States, the Emerson String Quartet took its name from the great American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. Founding members of the Emerson, violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer were joined by violist Lawrence Dutton in 1977 and cellist David Finckel in 1979. To commemorate its 25th-anniversary season, the Quartet compiled a commemorative book entitled Converging Lines. Written in the members’ own words, the book contains never-before-published text, graphics and photos from the Emerson’s private archives. The Quartet is based in New York City. The ensemble recently announced what will be its first member change in 34 years, when cellist Paul Watkins replaces David Finckel at the end of the 2012-2013 concert season. Mr. Finckel, who joined the Emerson Quartet in 1979, will leave the group to devote more time to his personal artistic endeavors.
For more information, visit www.emersonquartet.com