Alexander String Quartet with
Robert Greenberg, host and lecturer
This program is sponsored in part by the Mark D. Kaplanoff Lecture Fund of San Francisco Performances’ Endowment.
Zakarias Grafilo, violin
Frederick Lifsitz, violin
Paul Yarbrough, viola
Sandy Wilson, cello
Beethoven: Before, During and After
4 Saturdays at 10am
January 23, February 20,
March 5 and May 14, 2016
Alexander String Quartet Rehearses Invasive Species by Robert Greenberg
MOZART: Quartet in A Major, K. 464
BEETHOVEN: Quartet in A Major, Op. 18, No. 5
BEETHOVEN: Quartet in F Minor, Op. 95
MENDELSSOHN: Quartet in F Minor, Op. 80
with Roger Woodward, piano
BEETHOVEN: Piano Quartet No. 3 in C Major
GREENBERG: Invasive Species
BEETHOVEN: Quartet in A minor, Op. 132
GEORGE ROCHBERG: Quartet No. 3
About This Performance
For over 20 years, thousands of audience members from the Bay Area and beyond have savored Saturday-morning musical conversations, exploring composers and concepts with the Alexander String Quartet and San Francisco Performances Music Historian-in-Residence Robert Greenberg. The series combines complete performances of string quartets with Greenberg’s witty and profound takes on these works, their creators and their place in history and the hearts of music lovers.
Bad hair, bad temper, and bad attitude: Beethoven, the bad boy from Bonn changed the very way we listen to, think and talk about music. Like him or not, every composer since Beethoven has had to deal, somehow, with his compositional and expressive innovations. This series features four works by Beethoven (“during”); a string quartet that profoundly influenced Beethoven (Mozart’s A Major, K. 464, “before”); and three works powerfully influenced by Beethoven (“after”). Along the way the Alexander String Quartet will be joined by the legendary pianist Roger Woodward in a rare performance of Beethoven’s Piano Quartet No. 3 in C Major and Robert Greenberg’s quintet for piano and strings, Invasive Species.
Having celebrated it 30th Anniversary in 2011, the Alexander String Quartet has performed in the major music capitals of five continents, securing its standing among the world’s premiere ensembles. Widely admired for its interpretations of Beethoven, Mozart, and Shostakovich, the quartet's recordings of the Beethoven cycle (twice), and the Bartók and Shostakovich cycles have all won international critical acclaim. The quartet has also established itself as an important advocate of new music through over 25 commissions from such composers as Jake Heggie, Cindy Cox, Augusta Read Thomas, Robert Greenberg, Martin Bresnick, César Cano, and Pulitzer Prize-winner, Wayne Peterson. A new work by Tarik O'Reagan commissioned for the Alexander by the Boise Chamber Music Series, will have its premiere in 2016.
The Alexander String Quartet is a major artistic presence in its home base of San Francisco, serving since 1989 as Ensemble-in-Residence for San Francisco Performances and Directors of the the Morrison Chamber Music Center in the College of Liberal and Creative Arts at San Francisco State University.
The Alexander String Quartet’s annual calendar of concerts includes engagements at major halls throughout North America and Europe. The quartet has appeared at Lincoln Center, the 92nd Street Y, and the Metropolitan Museum in New York City; Jordan Hall in Boston; the Library of Congress and Dumbarton Oaks in Washington; and chamber music societies and universities across the North American continent. Recent overseas tours have brought them to the U.K., the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, France, Greece, the Republic of Georgia, Argentina, Panamá, and the Philippines. They returned to Poland for their debut performances at the Beethoven Easter Festival in 2015. Among the fine musicians with whom the Alexander String Quartet has collaborated are pianists Joyce Yang, Roger Woodward, Anne-Marie McDermott, Jon Nakamatsu, Menahem Pressler, and Jeremy Menuhin; clarinetists Joan Enric Lluna, David Shifrin, Richard Stolzman, and Eli Eban; soprano Elly Ameling; mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato; cellists Lynn Harrell, Sadao Harada, and David Requiro; violist Toby Appel; and jazz greats, Branford Marsalis, David Sánchez, and Andrew Speight. The quartet has worked with many composers including Aaron Copland, George Crumb, and Elliott Carter and has long enjoyed a close relationship with composer-lecturer Robert Greenberg, performing numerous lecture-concerts with him annually.
The Alexander String Quartet added considerably to its distinguished and wide-ranging discography over the past decade, now recording exclusively for the FoghornClassics label. There were three major releases in the 2013–2014 season: The combined string quartet cycles of Bartók and Kodály, recorded on the renowned Ellen M. Egger Quartet of matched instruments built by San Francisco luthier, Francis Kuttner (“If ever an album had ‘Grammy nominee’ written on its front cover, this is it.” —Audiophile Audition); The String Quintets & Sextets of Brahms with Toby Appel and David Requiro (“a uniquely detailed, transparent warmth” —Strings Magazine); and the Brahms & Schumann Piano Quintets with Joyce Yang (“passionate, soulful readings of two pinnacles of the chamber repertory” —The New York Times). Their recording of music of Gershwin and Kern was released in the summer of 2012, following the Spring 2012 recording of the clarinet quintet of Brahms and a new quintet from César Cano (in Friendship), in collaboration with Joan Enric Lluna, as well as a disc in collaboration with the San Francisco Choral Artists (with Strings Attached). Next to be released will be an album of works by Cindy Cox.
The Alexander's 2009 release of the complete Beethoven Cycle was described by Music Web International as performances “uncompromising in power, intensity and spiritual depth,” while Strings Magazine described the set as “a landmark journey through the greatest of all quartet cycles.” The FoghornClassics label released a three-CD set (Homage) of the Mozart quartets dedicated to Haydn in 2004. FoghornClassics released a six-CD album (Fragments Volume 1 & Volume 2) of the complete Shostakovich quartets in 2006 and 2007, and a recording of the complete quartets of Pulitzer prize-winning San Francisco composer, Wayne Peterson (Retrospections), was released in the Spring of 2008. BMG Classics released the quartet’s first recording of Beethoven cycle on its Arte Nova label to tremendous critical acclaim in 1999.
The Alexander String Quartet was formed in New York City in 1981 and captured international attention as the first American quartet to win the London International String Quartet Competition in 1985. The quartet has received honorary degrees from Allegheny College and St. Lawrence University, and presidential medals from Baruch College (CUNY).
Robert Greenberg was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1954, and has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1978. Greenberg received a BA in music, magna cum laude, from Princeton University in 1976. His principal teachers at Princeton were Edward Cone, Daniel Werts, and Carlton Gamer in composition, Claudio Spies and Paul Lansky in analysis, and Jerry Kuderna in piano. In 1984, Greenberg received a Ph.D. in music composition, With Distinction, from the University of California, Berkeley, where his principal teachers were Andrew Imbrie and Olly Wilson in composition and Richard Felciano in analysis.
Greenberg has composed over fifty works for a wide variety of instrumental and vocal ensembles. Recent performances of his works have taken place in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, England, Ireland, Greece, Italy and The Netherlands, where his Child's Play for String Quartet was performed at the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam.
Greenberg has received numerous honors, including three Nicola de Lorenzo Composition Prizes and three Meet-The-Composer Grants. Recent commissions have been received from the Koussevitzky Foundation in the Library of Congress, the Alexander String Quartet, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Strata Ensemble, San Francisco Performances, Trio 180, and the XTET ensemble. Greenberg is a board member and an artistic director of COMPOSERS, INC., a composers' collective/production organization based in San Francisco. His music is published by Fallen Leaf Press and CPP/Belwin, and is recorded on the Innova label.
Greenberg has performed, taught and lectured extensively across North America and Europe. He is currently music historian-in-residence with San Francisco Performances, where he has lectured and performed since 1994. He has served on the faculties of the University of California at Berkeley, California State University East Bay, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he chaired the Department of Music History and Literature from 1989-2001 and served as the Director of the Adult Extension Division from 1991–1996. Greenberg has lectured for some of the most prestigious musical and arts organizations in the United States, including the San Francisco Symphony (where for ten years he was host and lecturer for the Symphony's nationally acclaimed “Discovery Series”), The Chautauqua Institute (where he was the Everett Scholar-in-Residence during the 2006 season), the Ravinia Festival, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Van Cliburn Foundation, the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Villa Montalvo, Music @ Menlo, and the University of British Columbia (where he was the Dal Grauer Lecturer in September of 2006). In addition, Greenberg is a sought after lecturer for businesses and business schools. For ten years he was on the faculty of the Advanced Management Program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. In addition he has spoken for such diverse organizations as S.C. Johnson, Canadian Pacific, Deutsche Bank, the University of California/Haas School of Business Executive Seminar, the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, Harvard Business School Publishing, Kaiser-Permanente, the Strategos Institute, Quintiles Transnational, the Young Presidents’ Organization, the World Presidents’ Organization, and the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco. Greenberg has been profiled in The Wall Street Journal, INC. Magazine, the Times of London, The Los Angeles Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Jose Mercury News, The University of California Alumni Magazine, Princeton Alumni Weekly, and Diablo Magazine. For fifteen years Greenberg was the resident composer and music historian to National Public Radio’s Weekend All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, Sunday with Liane Hansen.
In February 2003, The Bangor Daily News (Maine) referred to Greenberg as the “Elvis of music history and appreciation,” an appraisal that has given more pleasure than any other.
In May 1993, Greenberg recorded a forty-eight lecture course entitled How to Listen to and Understand Great Music for The Great Courses (formerly The Teaching Company) of Chantilly, Virginia. (This course was named in the January, 1996 edition of Inc. Magazine as one of “The Nine Leadership Classics You've Never Read.”) Originally associated with the Smithsonian Institute, The Great Courses is the preeminent producer of college level courses-on-media in the United States. Twenty-five further courses, including Concert Masterworks, Bach and the High Baroque, The Symphonies of Beethoven, How to Listen to and Understand Opera,Great Masters, The Operas of Mozart, The Life and Operas of Verdi, The Symphony, The Chamber Music of Mozart, The Piano Sonatas of Beethoven, The Concerto, The Fundamentals of Music, The String Quartets of Beethoven, The Music of Richard Wagner, The Thirty Greatest Orchestral Works, and The Twenty-Three Greatest Solo Piano Works have been recorded since, totaling well over 600 lectures. The courses are available on both CD and DVD formats and in book form.
Dr. Greenberg’s book, How to Listen to Great Music, was published by Plume, a division of Penguin Books, in April of 2011.
In November of 2014, Greenberg’s show, Scandalous Overtures, debuted on Ora.tv.
Robert Greenberg is a Steinway Artist.
Yehudi Menuhin discovered twenty-six year old Roger Woodward at the UNESCO Jeunesses Musicales, Paris. Within a year, the young artist made his debut at London’s Royal Festival Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and began recording for EMI, Decca, RCA, DG, CPO and the Universal recording companies. He rose to international prominence in a series of collaborations with Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez, Jean Barraqué, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Iannis Xenakis, Toru Takemitsu, Arvo Pärt, John Cage, Morton Feldman, Harrison Birtwistle, Luciano Berio, Sylvano Bussotti, Horatiu Radulescu, Rolf Gehlhaar, James Dillon, Áskell Másson, Qu Xiaosong, Leo Brouwer and composers from his native Australia—in particular, Richard Meale, Anne Boyd, Ross Edwards, Barry Conyngham and Larry Sitsky.
His performances at La Scala, the Hollywood Bowl, Tiananmen Square, the Odeon of the Herodes Atticus, Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Gardens, the Royal Albert Hall, London, for BBC Promenade Concerts, Le festival d’automne à Paris, La biennale di Venezia, Wien Modern, New York Piano Festival, Edinburgh Festival, Warszawska Jesień, Festival de la Roque d’ Anthéron and, at the invitation of the Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter, at the celebrated Grange de Meslay, Touraine, have been reviewed as belonging to the highest echelons of pianists with some of his interpretations considered definitive.
Woodward performed at the invitation of conductors such as: Claudio Abbado, Zubin Mehta, Lorin Maazel, Sir Charles Mackerras, Kurt Masur, Charles Dutoit, Pierre Boulez, Edo de Waart, Willem van Otterloo, Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Roger Norrington, Sir John Pritchard, Sir Alexander Gibson, Herbert Bloomstedt, Paavo Bergland, Georg Tintner, Tan Li Hua, Nello Santi, Lamberto Gardelli, Arturo Tamayo, Erich Leinsdorf, Eliahu Inbal, Witold Rowicki, Antoni Wit, Nikolaus Weiss, Moshe Atzmon, Lukas Foss, Arnold Katz, Hiroyuki Iwaki, James Judd, Hans Zender, Walter Susskind, Georges Tzipine et al and with the New York, Los Angeles, Beijing and Israel Philharmonic Orchestras, the Cleveland Orchestra, the GustavMahler Jugendorchester, the Australian Youth Orchestra, the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester,Saarländisches Staatsorchester, the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra and Orchestre de Paris, Berlin Radio Orchester, NDR Sinfonie Orchester, and the six London orchestras as well as with the NZSO and Australian State orchestras.
Memorable collaborations were with Graeme Murphy, Janet Vernon and the Sydney Dance Company on Xenakis’ Kraanerg in which Woodward directed a series of twenty-five performances at the Sydney Opera House. His direction of Kraanerg was declared one of the best recordings of the year by the London music critics. He performed with the Budapest and Prague Chamber Orchestras, with the Arditti, Alexander, Edinburgh, JACK (New York), Tokyo and Australian String Quartets. He toured with the Vienna Trio, and with the musicians Ivry Gitlis, Wanda Wilkomirska, Jassen Todorov, Philippe Hirschhorn, Ilya Grubert, Winfried Rademacher, Federico Agostini, James Creitz, Rohan de Saram, Nathan Waks, Synergy Percussion, Cecil Taylor (in Portugal, France and the UK) and Frank Zappa. He worked on a wide variety of projects with the British-French musicologist Arthur Hedley, the American musicologists HC Robbins Landon, Charles Rosen and the British analyst Richard Toop.
His recordings have earned him widespread critical acclaim with prestigious awards including the Goethe prize and Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, by the German critics; the Ritmo prize by the Spanish critics and Diapason d’or by the French critics. His performances and recordings of J.S. Bach’s Das Wohltemperierte Clavier and Partitas, of the complete Beethoven piano sonatas and concertos and works of Mozart, Chopin, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Bartók, Schoenberg, Skryabin, Rakhmaninov, Prokofiev, Shostakovich (24 Preludes and Fugues), Feldman, Xenakis, Barraqué, Takemitsu, Qu Xiaosong, Otte and recordings of works by many Australian composers, received exceptional reviews.
Woodward is a composer and conductor who directed festivals in Italy, France, Austria the UK, Australia. He is currently Professor of Keyboard Performance at the California State University in San Francisco where he was appointed founding director of the School of Music in 2002. He is published by HarperCollins, the Pendragon and Greenway Press (New York). For the past ten years he has recorded for Celestial Harmonies, Universal and ABC Classics. He completed his early studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with Alexander Sverjensky (a pupil of Alexander Glazunov and Sergei Rakhmaninov), then with Zbigniew Drzewiecki at the Chopin National Academy of Music, Warsaw. At the beginning of his career (in 1963) he founded the Sydney International Piano Competition and directed it until it was permanently funded from 1976. Between 1990 and 2001 he founded and directed the Sydney Spring International Festival of New Music. During his entire professional life he worked with underprivileged children and with children throughout regional Australia. Every year he gives master classes in many different parts of the world and regularly appears on the juries of U.S. and international piano competitions. He performed the complete works of Chopin from memory for the Sydney Festival and on twelve occasions, Beethoven’s complete piano sonata cycle.
The artist was awarded many distinguished honours and prizes including France’s Chevalier des arts et des lettres, the Polish Order of Merit (Commander Class), the Polish Order of Solidarity, the Polish Gloria Artis (gold class) and the Order of the British Empire. He is a Companion of the Order of Australia, recipient of the Australian Centenary Medal and in 1997, was designated a National Living Treasure by the Australian National Trust.
Over the past few months Roger Woodward performed works by Beethoven and Robert Greenberg with the Alexander String Quartet at the Herbst Theatre, San Francisco and Mondavi Center, UC Davis. He works on a regular basis with the Alexander Quartet with whom he recorded Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, Dvořák, Shostakovich and in February, the premiere of the Greenberg Piano Quintet. In April he performed two sold out recitals at the San Francisco Herbst Theatre of late-Beethoven piano sonatas. Last month he performed in Hamburg and Oldenburg works by Chopin, Bach and the complete Debussy Etudes before performing a programme of Brahms and Xenakis with the Canadian clarinetist Lori Freedman and celebrated cellist Rohan de Saram. In July he premieres a new work in Melbourne by the young Australian composer Andrew Batt-Rawden.
Yehudi Menuhin discovered Roger Woodward at the UNESCO Jeunesses Musicales, Paris and within a year, the artist made his debut at London’s Royal Festival Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and began recording for EMI, Decca, RCA, DG, CPO and the Universal recording companies. He rose to international prominence in a series of collaborations with Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez, Jean Barraqué, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Iannis Xenakis, and worked closely with Toru Takemitsu, Arvo Pärt, John Cage, Morton Feldman, Robert Greenberg, Harrison Birtwistle, Luciano Berio, Sylvano Bussotti, Horatiu Radulescu, Rolf Gehlhaar, James Dillon, Qu Xiaosong and Leo Brouwer.
He appears regularly at the major European festivals where his performances at La Scala, the Hollywood Bowl, Tiananmen Square, the Odeon of the Herodes Atticus, Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Gardens, the Royal Albert Hall, London (for BBC Promenade Concerts), Le festival d’automne à Paris, La biennale di Venezia, Wien Modern, Edinburgh Festival, Warszawska Jesień, Festival de la Roque d’ Anthéron and New York Piano Festival, have been acclaimed as belonging to the highest echelons of pianists. At the invitation of the Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter, he performed at the celebrated Grange de Meslay, Touraine.
Woodward performed at the invitation of such conductors as Claudio Abbado, Zubin Mehta, Lorin Maazel, Sir Charles Mackerras, Charles Dutoit, Pierre Boulez, Edo de Waart, Kurt Masur, Herbert Bloomstedt, Georg Tintner, Tan Li Hua and with the New York, Los Angeles, Beijing and Israel Philharmonic Orchestras, the Cleveland Orchestra, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, L’orchestre de Paris and six London orchestras, London Mozart Players and Sinfonietta. He directed the Budapest and Prague Chamber Orchestras, and performed with the Arditti, Alexander, Edinburgh, JACK (New York), Tokyo and Australian String Quartets and Frank Zappa. He toured with the Vienna Trio, Ivry Gitlis, Wanda Wilkomirska, Philippe Hirschhorn, James Creitz, Ilya Grubert and Cecil Taylor.
Woodward directed festivals in France, Austria the UK and Australia. He is currently Professor of Keyboard Performance at the California State University in San Francisco and is published by HarperCollins, Pendragon and Greenway Press (New York). Recordings over the past ten years for Celestial Harmonies, Universal and ABC Classics earned him widespread critical acclaim with prestigious awards, including the Goethe prize and Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, by the German critics; Ritmo prize by the Spanish critics and Diapason d’or by the French critics. Performances and recordings of J.S. Bach’s Das Wohltemperierte Clavier and Partitas, of the complete Beethoven piano sonatas and concertos, complete works of Chopin, Brahms concertos, complete works of Debussy and Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes and Fugues received exceptional reviews.
The artist completed his early studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with Alexander Sverjensky (a pupil of Alexander Glazunov and Sergei Rachmaninov), then with Zbigniew Drzewiecki at the Chopin National Academy of Music, Warsaw. He was awarded France’s Chevalier des arts et des lettres, the Polish Order of Merit (Commander Class), the Polish Order of Solidarity, the Polish Gloria Artis (gold class), the Order of the British Empire and is a Companion of the Order of Australia.