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Gerald Carpenter: Arts & Lectures Brings Danish Quartet Back to Campbell Hall

The UCSB Office of Arts & Lectures is sponsoring a return visit by the popular ensemble, the Danish String Quartet (Frederik Øland & Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen, violins); Asbjørn Nørgaard, viola; Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin, cello), for a concert at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, in UCSB Campbell Hall.

The Quartet also will lead a Master Class with UCSB students at 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, in UCSB Geiringer Hall, in the Music Building.
The theme and organizing principle of the Danish program is The Hunt — Tally Ho! and all that.

The four works in the concert will be: Franz Josef Haydn's "String Quartet No. 1 in Bb-Major, Opus 1, No. 1, 'La Chasse' (1762-64);" Wolfgang Mozart's "String Quartet No. 17 in Bb-Major, K. 458 'Hunt Quartet' (1784);" Jörg Widmann's "Third String Quartet 'Hunting Quartet' (2003);" and Johannes Brahms' "String Quartet No. 3 in Bb-Major, Opus 67 (1876);"

Oscar Wilde famously spoke of the English gentleman on a fox hunt as "the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible," but in Wilde's day (the later 19th century), hardly any hunting squires underwrote West End plays.

In the18th century, on the other hand, when the first two quartets were composed, the aristocrats who rode to the hounds also supported most of the working composers, and they occasionally like to hear their two obsessions — music and blood sports — mixed together.

(For an idea of what these hunts were like, you can't do better than Tony Richardson's film of Tom Jones (1963), and the deer hunt that is the most exciting action sequence ever committed to celluloid.)

You'll note that three of the four works are in the key of Bb-Major, the key of almost all hunting horns. The Widman quartet, which bears no key signature, nevertheless makes use of hunt motifs.

Widmann (born 1973) is a German composer, conductor and clarinetist, and is much in demand in all three categories. Born in Munich, he was educated there and at the Juilliard School in New York.

He now lives and works in Berlin, where he is professor of composition at the Barenboim–Said Academy Berlin.

Since 2017, Widmann holds the Edward-Said-Chair (after Edward Wadie Said, 1935-2003, co-founder of the academy with the Argentine-born pianist, conductor and peace activist Daniel Barenboim.) His best-known compositions are his four string quartets.

Tickets to the Danish String Quartet are $25-$40 for the general public, $15 for all students, with valid student. Tickets can be obtained from the Campbell Hall ticket booth, by phone, 893-3535, or on line at

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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