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In preparation

Programme Notes

My second string quartet is dedicated to the Ying Quartet and was commissioned as part of the Eastman School of Music's centenary.  The title arises from a phrase in Joseph Roth's novel 'The Radetzky March', in which the protagonist Captain Trotta's tempestuous dreams "dawned in his soul unknown songs of nameless ancestors".  Similarly, many of the musical ideas contained in the piece came to me during restless sleep.  The primary melodic force is the mordent (from mordere, "to bite"), a short up-and-down trill figuration used in Baroque and Renaissance music as well as in many vernacular traditions. The mordent’s oscillating, stepwise shape and salutatory gesture also serve as a formal basis for the work’s one continuous movement.

Songs of Nameless Ancestors

Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester (Rochester, NY, USA)

Ying Quartet