In Conversation with the Master | Alan George and Marina Frolova-Walker on Shostakovich
Alan George will talk about what Shostakovich meant to him personally (the FSQ were invited by Shostakovich to première his last three quartets in the UK), and Professor Frolova-Walker will paint a picture of the broader cultural and historical context.
As an introduction, you are invited to attend the FSQ Schubert and Shostakovich concert in the College’s auditorium on Thursday 16 March at 6:30. Tickets can be booked online.
This event is free of charge. To book onto it and/or supper, please click HERE.
A brief history of the Fitzwilliam String Quartet:
Fitzwilliam College violinists Nicholas Dowding and John Phillips formed the Fitzwilliam String Quartet at the College in Michaelmas 1968 with Alan George of King's and loan Davies of St John's. Of these original members, only Alan is still playing with the Quartet. In 1971 they accepted their first professional appointment, as Quartet in Residence at the University of York.
It was only a year into their residency at York University that the much documented association with Dmitri Shostakovich first catapulted the Quartet into the public eye. The composer travelled to York to hear the British première of his thirteenth quartet and this musical friendship (the composer’s own word!) prospered through correspondence, and the presentation of his final two quartets that he wrote in the years following.
Having premièred Shostakovich’s last three quartets in Britain, the FSQ were the first to record and perform all fifteen quartets; complete cycles were given in a number of major centres, including London, New York, and Montréal.
A planned visit to spend a week with the composer in Moscow however, was abandoned when he sadly died in August of 1975. Benjamin Britten afterwards reported (just before his own death) that Shostakovich had told him the Fitzwilliam were his “preferred performers of my quartets”.
The current line-up combines founding member violist Alan George with a new generation of performers: violinists Lucy Russell and Marcus Barcham-Stevens, and cellist Heather Tuach. Since 1999, they have been Quartet in Residence at Fitzwilliam College.