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.
This event is free of charge. To book onto it and/or supper, please click HERE.
ALAN GEORGE won an open scholarship to King’s College, Cambridge, where he became one of the founder members of the Fitzwilliam String Quartet in 1968. Having premièred Shostakovich’s last three quartets in Britain, the Fitzwilliam String Quartet 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. Alan studied violin with Colin Sauer at Dartington Hall, viola with Herbert Downes in London, and chamber music with Sidney Griller at the Royal Academy of Music.
MARINA FROLOVA-WALKER FBA is Professor of Music History at the Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge, and Fellow of Clare College. She is the author of Russian Music and Nationalism from Glinka to Stalin (Yale, 2007), Stalin's Music Prize: Soviet Culture and Politics (Yale, 2016), and co-author (with Jonathan Walker) of Music and Soviet Power, 1917–32 (Boydell, 2012). In 2015 she was awarded the Edward J. Dent Medal by the Royal Musical Association for ‘outstanding contribution to musicology’.
A brief history of the Fitzwilliam String Quartet:
Alan George of King's and loan Davies of St John's formed the Fitzwilliam String Quartet with Fitzwilliam College violinists Nicholas Dowding and John Phillips at the College in Michaelmas 1968. 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 Sally Pendlebury. Since 1999, they have been Quartet in Residence at Fitzwilliam College.