String Quartet No. 3 ("A Tapestry")

  • Musical Composition

Stephen Jaffe STRING QUARTET No. 3 (“A Tapestry”) I. Prelude (fragments) II. Scherzo I: poised and graceful, but impish (“scherzino”) III. Joy of rhythm IV. Ribbons (watercolor) V. Scherzo II (“scherzone”- with night blues) VI. Postlude (with light of dove and the rose) STRING QUARTET No. 3 (“A Tapestry”) is a gathering of musical fragments woven into a whole. Framed by a Prelude and Postlude, the longest of the six movements lasts about five minutes, the shortest, one minute or so. Musical ideas and phrases migrate across the movements, in the service of the moment and the whole experience. The six movements of A Tapestry are Prelude (Fragments)—Scherzo I (“Scherzino”, or Little scherzo)—Joy of Rhythm—Ribbons (watercolor)—Scherzo II (“Scherzone” or Big scherzo-with Night Blues)—Postlude (with light of dove and the rose). The descriptive titles of each movement require little explanation, except two. Within the otherwise wild and shifting energy of Scherzo II comes Night Blues, inspired as a memory-portrait of a performance given by the Ciompi Quartet and cellist Norman Fischer on September 14, 2001. The whole world seemed to depend on one note’s timing! The Postlude’s main section also bears a subtitle. This part of the music is a free transcription for quartet of a song I composed to Richard Wilbur’s translation from the French of Villiers de l’Isle Adam, which includes the lines “If, like the flower which grows/ In the exile soil of graves/ You beg to share my woes…I’ll bring you a gift of doves.” String Quartet No. 3 (“A Tapestry”) is dedicated to my friends, the Ciompi Quartet. (-S.J.)

Commissioned By

  • Ciompi Quartet

Duke Faculty Artists/Collaborators

Cited Artists/Collaborators

  • Stephen Jaffe

Creation Date

  • 2014