Paul Brantley composes “Esterházy” for Flux Quartet and The New Esterházy Quartet

To celebrate the life of the late Mathematician and early Computer Pioneer, Franz Alt, Paul Brantley has been commissioned to compose a string quartet in memory of his dear friend, who passed away last year at age 100! Franz was also a wonderful amateur violinist and violist who regularly held string quartet readings in his home – which he played in up until the last year of his very rich life and in which Brantley participated as cellist for nearly a decade.

Inspired by Haydn’s comment that that by moving to Esterházy he was “forced to become original” — by his virtual isolation — Brantley is calling his piece “Esterházy.” The composer writes: “I’ve always responded to this statement more as a metaphor for the creative process in general: wherever the artist might be geographically, one has to enter a self-reliant, ‘Esterházy,’ frame of mind–and so the creative person’s perennial balancing act of ‘being in the world’/’being in one’s own’. Franz’ life was manifestly a meaningful and beautiful balance in this regard.”

Upon this piece being announced for Flux Quartet, Brantley was contacted by The New Esterházy Quartet, the renowned period instrument group, which expressed interest in giving the West Coast premiere. “As much as I was thrilled by such a request, the music I had conceived and written at that point was not entirely idiomatic for such a period instrument group. But in that this music was consumed with all kinds of “doubles”, the idea occurred to me to compose two independent and yet interlaced quartets: one for Flux, the new music quartet; and one for NEQ, the period instrument group.” Both will be premiered in the 2013-2014 season.

You can read more about this Fractured Atlas sponsored project here.