An extended project that has preoccupied John Woolrich for the past four years, the string quartet pieces that make up A Book of Inventions continue to garner interest from performing quartets. Most recently, Salomé Quartet premiered ‘A door just opened on a street’ at Gulbenkian Arts Centre (16 September) followed by a concert including ‘A Parcel of Airs’, ‘Scherzi di Fantasia’, ‘A Still Tragic Dance’ in Folkestone (24 September). Benyounes Quartet were in Folkestone on the very next day to perform ‘A Short Story’, ‘Kleine Wanderung’, ‘Morendo’, ‘Ending Up’, ‘The voices of dust’ at the Strange Cargo Venue.

A large collection of newly composed pieces, the first project first came to fruition with the performance of ‘Badinerie’ by the Ansonia Quartet in 2018 at MoMA, New York. Since then, the collection has grown to a massive 19 works with performances such as at Barber Institute of Fine Arts Birmingham, Snape Maltings, Moscow Conservatory, by Bozzini Quartet, Tesla Quartet, Ruisi Quartet respectively.

A Book of Inventions is currently available in four volumes (I, II, III, IV), although the pieces themselves welcome solitary performances, or in combination with any of the other quartets in any order. The momentous collection is still in progress, with ‘A Box of Shards’ – the first piece in the forthcoming fifth volume – receiving its premiere on 23 October 2021 with Sacconi Quartet at St Mary and St Eanswythe Church, Folkestone.

A Book of Inventions is generously supported by PRS Foundation’s The Composers’ Fund and by the following co-commissioners: Alan Cook, Joel Sachs, Little Missenden Festival, Snape Maltings, and The Henry Barber Trust

 Watch Tim Hopkins’ video accompanying ‘Kleine Wanderung’ from volume III here.


‘A thoroughly captivating musical journey…’ on Badinerie, July 2018, MoMA, New York


‘Débricollage is the latest addition… His title is borrowed from a kinetic sculpture by Yves Tinguely, in which an assemblage of everyday objects move around each other according to unrevealed rules. Woolrich’s piece also brings together unexpected, apparently unrelated ideas, and creates a narrative to bind them. Sudden brief unisons anchor the music and launch it in fresh directions, whether those are long-limbed melodic lines or clockwork pizzicatos. A fragile, teasing coherence gradually emerges.’
The Guardian (Andrew Clements), 15 March 2019