Choose a performance from the dates below
After 44 seasons comprising thousands of concerts on multiple continents, dozens of recordings, and definitive performances of the greatest works in the literature, the Emerson String Quartet says goodbye to its listeners from the CMS stage.
Two seminal works, chosen by the players, sum up the group’s lifetime of dedication to the classics of the quartet repertoire.
Ludwig van Beethoven(1770–1827)
Quartet in B-flat major for Strings, Op. 130, with “Grosse Fuge,” Op. 133(1825)
Quintet in C major for Two Violins, Viola, and Two Cellos, D. 956, Op. 163(1828)
Emerson String Quartet
The Emerson String Quartet has spent more than four decades as one of the world’s premier chamber music ensembles. “With musicians like this,” wrote a reviewer for The Times (London), “there must be some hope for humanity.” The Quartet has made more than 35 acclaimed recordings, and has been honored with nine Grammys (including two for Best Classical Album), three Gramophone Classical Music Awards, the Avery Fisher Prize, and Musical America’s “Ensemble of the Year” Award. The ESQ has commissioned works from some of today’s most esteemed composers, and has partnered in performance with leading soloists such as Renée Fleming, Barbara Hannigan, Evgeny Kissin, Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, James Galway, Edgar Meyer, Mstislav Rostropovich, Menahem Pressler, Leon Fleisher, André Previn, and Isaac Stern.
The Emerson’s extensive discography includes the complete string quartets of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Bartók, Webern, and Shostakovich, as well as multi-CD sets of major works by Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, and Dvořák. In October 2020, the group released a CD of Schumann’s three quartets for the Pentatone label. Deutsche Grammophon recently reissued its box set of the Emerson Complete Recordings on the label, now expanded to 55 discs. The Quartet’s final recording, a collaboration with soprano Barbara Hannigan, features music by Schoenberg, Hindemith, Berg, and Chausson; the sessions were filmed by acclaimed director Mathieu Amalric.
Formed in 1976 and based in New York City, the Emerson String Quartet was one of the first quartets whose violinists alternate in the first-violin position. The group, which takes its name from the American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, serves as Quartet-in-Residence at Stony Brook University. In 2013, Paul Watkins, a distinguished soloist and award-wining conductor, joined the original members of the Quartet after the departure of cellist David Finckel
Co-Artistic Director of CMS since 2004, cellist David Finckel’s dynamic musical career has included performances on the world’s stages in the roles of recitalist, chamber artist, and orchestral soloist. The first American student of Mstislav Rostropovich, he joined the Emerson String Quartet in 1979, and during 34 seasons garnered nine Grammy Awards and the Avery Fisher Prize. His quartet performances and recordings include quartet cycles of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Dvorák, Brahms, Bartók, and Shostakovich, as well as collaborative masterpieces and commissioned works. In 1997, he and pianist Wu Han founded ArtistLed, the first internet-based, artist-controlled classical recording label. ArtistLed’s catalog of more than 20 releases includes the standard literature for cello and piano, plus works composed for the duo by George Tsontakis, Gabriela Lena Frank, Bruce Adolphe, Lera Auerbach, Edwin Finckel, Augusta Read Thomas, and Pierre Jalbert. In 2022, Music@Menlo, an innovative summer chamber music festival in Silicon Valley founded and directed by David and Wu Han, celebrated its 20th season. As a young student, David was winner of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s junior and senior divisions, resulting in two performances with the orchestra. Having taught extensively with the late Isaac Stern in America, Israel, and Japan, he is currently a professor at both the Juilliard School and Stony Brook University, and oversees both CMS’s Bowers Program and Music@Menlo’s Chamber Music Institute. David’s 100 online Cello Talks, lessons on cello technique, are viewed by an international audience of musicians. Along with Wu Han, he was the recipient of Musical America’s 2012 Musicians of the Year Award.