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Paperback Indivisible by Four: A String Quartet in Pursuit of Harmony Book

ISBN: 0374527008

ISBN13: 9780374527006

Indivisible by Four: A String Quartet in Pursuit of Harmony

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Book Overview

The Guarneri Quartet is fabled for its unique longevity and high-spirited virtuosity. Here is its story from the inside--a story filled with drama, humor, danger, compassion, and, of course, glorious music. A player who studies and performs the exalted string-quartet repertoire has opted for a very special life. Arnold Steinhardt, tracing his own development as a student, orchestra player, and budding young soloist, gives a touching account of how...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

GREAT book about chamber music

This book is required reading in the chamber music literature class I teach at a university. Steinhardt's writing is charming and easy to read, and he gives a fascinating look into what it's like to work with the same 3 men in such close quarters for 30+ years. If you have ever enjoyed a chamber music concert, or played chamber music yourself it is a must read. My students who play in rock bands also have found it a very valuable book, since a band is a similar animal to the string quartet.

The Four Chambered Heart

If you are intrigued by music and how it's made, by the hearts and minds of those who have devoted their lives to making instruments sing, then this will be one of the most interesting and satisfying books you've ever read. Arnold Steinhardt, the first violinist of the Guarneri String Quartet, has that rare ability to step outside his discipline and bring it alive for others. Indivisible by Four is the story not only of how the Guarneri String Quartet came to be, but of how four very different musicians have managed to forge a unique musical identity for themselves as well. Here you will hear how Steinhardt and his colleagues approach a piece - about their differences and how they are resolved, the things that worked and those that didn't, the inevitable surprises and how they got through them. Best of all, from the perspective of someone who is not a professional musician, is Steinhardt's ability to bring the technical as well as the human elements alive for the reader. I came away with a good solid introduction to chamber music in general, and to the music and composers that have shaped it. Steinhardt even manages to toss in some music theory without allowing the pace to slow to a crawl. An action packed thriller with plenty of twists and turns in the plot this is not. Expect instead to be treated to a very personal and intimate glimpse into the hearts of four very gifted and dedicated musicians.

Life in a Famous String Quartet

Ah, leading the glamorous life! Many thanks to Arnold Steinhardt for sharing his fascinating experiences as a member of the Guarneri Quartet. His book is full of marvelous memories and thoughtful insights into a classical musician's art as practiced at the highest levels. Steinhardt is always interesting, often eloquent. This book has given me a renewed appreciation of the string quartet literature, and a deeper understanding of the collaborative art of chamber music.

An Insider's View -- Written for Everyone

I had the pleasure of working with the Guarneri Quartet for two years while a Graduate Fellow at the University of Maryland, where the Quartet has a residency. I had the rare chance of working with four distinct, wonderful musical and human personalities. When this book came to my attention, I jumped to purchase it right away. I was not disappointed. It really reflects Mr. Steinhardt's easygoing nature. The prose is relaxed, the stories are genuine, and usually humorous in some way. Coachings with Mr. Steinhardt were always rewarding experiences, with flashes of brilliant insight into the work we were examining that week, and also with moments of humor and a sense of discovering the work together, as if for the first time -- though he'd played the piece hundreds of times! This book made me most thankful for having had the opportunity to work with these four wonderful musicians and human beings, and most thankful of all that they ever got together in the first place, to bless the classical music world with their enduring spirit and with their unique qualities of music-making -- the best of the old and new schools of string playing. Cheers, Mr. Steinhardt -- a wonderful book, worthy of your musical journeys!

Review of this book and For the Love of It by Wayne Booth

This review from the April 27, 1999 issue of the University of Chicago (my daughter's school) Maroon by Daniel B. Ginsberg is excellent. I'm look forward to reading the books and listening to the Guarneri Quartet.It would be difficult to find two more different people to write memoirs on their encounters with chamber music. Wayne Booth is professor emeritus of English at U of C. At thirty-one, he took up the cello with little prospect of sounding like virtuoso Yo-Yo Ma or Pablo Casals. Years of practice would be required for Booth to extract lush phrasing and warm sonorities from his cello. Yet Booth maintained a rigorous practice schedule for over four decades, and he now plays lovely chamber music with his wife and friends. In For the Love of It, he explains his passion in hopes of inspiring others to follow his lead. Gifted with talent and early musical education, Arnold Steinhardt went on to become the first violinist of the Guarneri String Quartet, one of the most successful string quartets of the twentieth century. Composed of its original members for thirty-five years, the ensemble has shed new light on many of the towering masterpieces of the string quartet repertoire. Through their sure technique and warm, supple tone, they have encouraged a slow but steady growth in chamber music listening across the country. Their concert to a packed Mandel Hall last October is only indicative of that ever-rising interest. With Indivisible by Four, Steinhardt seeks to review their career and get at the question of how the ensemble could remain together for such a long time.From these vastly different perspectives, Booth and Steinhardt come to similar conclusions about what has kept them going. Booth seemingly strives for the impossible while Steinhardt and the Guarneri adhere to their busy recording and performing schedule because the rewards of sharing some of the finest music ever composed with an audience and one another far outweigh the challenges of the lifestyle.These challenges are no small thing for either musician. For Booth theimpediments in his amateur hobby -- what he calls his "cello-reach" -- all flow from picking up the instrument late in life. Because he lacked the early training, he never developed the dexterity and coordination to play at the highest levels. No matter how much he practices or how high quality the teaching he receives, there is simply no way that he will ever be able to master the intricate thumb positioning and effortlessly ripple those arpeggios. This unfortunate physiological fact deters most from picking up the instrument and compels many a daring soul to quit.For Steinhardt and the Guarneri, subjugation of one's musical identity to the group and the search to find balance among four musical voices provide the primary source of tension. Each member of the quartet, including Steinhardt, cellist David Soyer, violist Michael Tree, and violinist John Dalley, often has a different
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