Composer

One Hundred Years Grows Shorter Over Time

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string quartet

duration: 18 Minutes

One Hundred Years Grows Shorter Over Time was commissioned by South Mountain Association for the Juilliard String Quartet in honor of the 100th anniversary of South Mountain Concerts, and premiered on September 23, 2018 at South Mountain Concert Hall in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Temporarily Available Recording: 

Wigmore Hall performance by the Juilliard String Quartet

Program Notes:

One Hundred Years Grows Shorter Over Time was commissioned by South Mountain Association for the Juilliard String Quartet and written in honor of the 100th anniversary of South Mountain Concerts. As I began writing I thought about the span of 100 years: how, over time, our lives turn into stories told by our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, the complications and subtleties of life crystalizing into anecdotes as actual memories fade. The three movements of this quartet are like successive generations retelling the same story. Musical material is passed from movement to movement, but along the way it is reinterpreted and reshaped into something quite different. The movements all share a similar obsessiveness of character, moments of exuberance, and a tendency for long lines to emerge out of faster, restless music, but each movement is shorter, slower, and more focused than the previous one. As I wrote, a melody kept coming into my mind: a waltz written by my Estonian granduncle Ilmar Kiiss, now in his mid-90s. He had written the waltz in the 1950s after the Soviet occupation of Estonia and I had first played this music with my violinist brother when we were teenagers. Over the years we have kept returning to it and it felt right to let this little bit of my granduncle’s life that had meant so much to me, into my piece. The waltz is hidden or just hinted at in the first two movements but in the third it appears fully realized if a bit scratchy, as if an old recording, a piece of the past both beautiful and out-of-context, was re-discovered by a future generation.