String Quartet No. 1

Allegro molto – Lento – Allegro misterioso

After reading music at Cambridge, where he was Organ Scholar of Queens' College, Peter Dickinson went to New York on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship where he was a graduate student at the Juilliard School of Music and spent two further years in the States.

In his first autumn he wrote this Quartet, which was played at Juilliard and elsewhere, but a professional performance of some prominence came on 16 January 1961 when it was played by the Phoenix Quartet at a Composers Forum Concert in New York. Surprisingly the New York critics regarded the quartet as aggressively modern. Even if there is a suggestion of an angry young man getting Cambridge out of his system that reaction may be difficult to understand now.

The composer revised the work following the early performances. The only major change was the adjustment to a three-movement work rather than four, with the short scherzo incorporated into the first movement.

There was a British premiere of the original version given by the Dorian Quartet in Birmingham in the 1970s but in 2010 the composer put the revised score into final form in consultation with Peter Sheppard-Skaerved, leader of the Kreutzer Quartet, and they gave the first performance at the Wilton Music Hall, London, on 19 June 2011.

© 2008-19 Peter Dickinson