String quartets are an essential part of the chamber music repertoire. Many notable composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig von Beethoven, and Antonin Vivaldi wrote pieces for string quartets. While we have many of their works in the Albert Alphin Library, we also have a number of works by other composers.
Although Dmitri Shostakovich's most famous chamber piece was his seventh string quartet, he wrote fourteen other string quartets throughout his life that are also worth mentioning. His first quartet conveys "images of spring," a contrast to his famous fifth symphony that he wrote around the same time.
Available at M452 .S55 n.1 1990b at the Albert Alphin Library.
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich is known for her symphonies and concertos, but she also composed a number of chamber works throughout her career, including works for string quartet. Voyage, written in 2012, is one of her newer works and was commissioned by the Galimir String Quartet.
Available at M452 .Z98 V69 2013 in the Albert Alphin Library.
Jean Sibelius was best known for his symphonies, but he also composed a few string quartets. His Quartet in D Minor was written right before his fourth symphony. Like his fourth symphony, this quartet is brooding and reveal "chilling, deeper currents."
Available at M452 .S56 V6 1952 in the Albert Alphin Library.
Carl Nielsen is largely known for his six symphonies, which contributed to renewed interest in the symphonic genre in the 20th century. He also wrote four string quartets throughout his compositional career. His fourth string quartet was written right before his violin concerto in 1909 and was revised ten years later in 1919. The Albert Alphin Library owns the revised version. This particular string quartet is considered more "free-flowing" than his third quartet.
Available at M452 .N55 op.44 in the Albert Alphin Library.
Heitor Villa-Lobos, one of the most famous South American composers, wrote a number of string quartets in addition to his Choros and Bachianas Brasileiras. His first string quartet was written in the early part of his career and is part of his exploratory style period.
Available at M452 .V75 no.1 1953 in the Albert Alphin Library.
Steve Reich is known for his larger chamber works such as Drumming and Music for 18 Musicians. However, he also wrote a notable piece titled Different Trains for string quartet and tape. The recorded tape is speech taken from interviews of Holocaust survivors regarding train travel in Nazi-occupied Europe. Reich's Jewish heritage and his childhood love of trains play a large influence in this piece.
Available at M452 .R338 D5 in the Albert Alphin Library.