Pre-concert talk with Houston Public Media Arts & Culture director St. John Flynn and Apollo Chamber Players' violinist, artistic director and co-founder Matthew Detrick and composer Alexandra du Bois discussing folkloric elements du Bois' 4th string quartet

03 Feb String Quartet No.4: Obala More (2016)

Commissioned by the Apollo Chamber Players
World premiere: April 2016, Houston, Texas, by Apollo Chamber Players

Introduction: Out of sea-mist, in medias res (Aria: Adagio lugubre)
I. Istria: Hrvatska Obala (Croatian Coast) (Rondo: Allegro assai)
II. Uspavankas (Lullabies) (Waltz: Larghetto cantabile) (attacca)
III. Dalmatian Hinterland (Scherzo: Allegro pesante con fuoco) (attacca)
IV. Tempo di Gusle (Finale: Presto all’ungherese)

(photo: Pre-concert talk with Houston Public Media Arts & Culture director St. John Flynn and Apollo Chamber Players’ violinist, artistic director and co-founder Matthew Detrick and composer Alexandra du Bois discussing folkloric elements du Bois’ 4th string quartet)

“My fourth string quartet was inspired by the rich tapestries of traditional Croatian folk songs and the undulating Adriatic Sea. In particular, the quartet was shaped by folk song transcriptions of Croatian composer and musicologist Franjo Kuhač, Croatian ethnomusicologist Vinko Zganec, and Hungarian composer Béla Bartók,” explains  Ms. Du Bois. “I also explored possible connections Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn, the ‘father’ of the string quartet, may have to Croatia.”

She continues: “I was writing this quartet during the end of 2015 and early 2016 at time when the crisis of Syrian refuge families making their perilous journeys towards Western Europe and across the Adriatic Sea was occurring. This is a work about peace and thus was inspired and influenced by people displaced as a result of war and conflict.” 

“The string quartet is perhaps the most personal and intimate of all compositional mediums of Western classical music. For me, it addresses a language that can speak loudly without having to raise its voice. In this quartet I focused on the folk songs and musical parlance of the Croatian coast in part because I myself was born by the (Atlantic) sea and have explored its important creative presence in my life since I was very young, but also, equally, because I love the soundworld of the Istrian ‘scale’ which has become a part of my inner dialogue.”