Emerson String Quartet

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The Emerson String Quartet, also known as the Emerson Quartet,[1] is an American string quartet that was initially formed as a student group at the Juilliard School in the 1970s. It was named for American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson and began touring professionally in 1976.[2] The ensemble taught in residence at The Hartt School in the 1980s and is currently (2022) the quartet in residence at Stony Brook University.[3] Both of the founding violinists studied with Oscar Shumsky at Juilliard, and the two alternated as first and second violinists for the group. The Emerson Quartet was one of the first such ensembles with the two violinists alternating chairs.[4]

Emerson String Quartet
The Emerson String Quartet in 2014
The Emerson String Quartet in 2014
Background information
Also known asThe Emerson Quartet
OriginNew York City, United States
Occupation(s)String quartet
Instrument(s)2 violins, 1 viola, 1 cello
Years active1976–present
LabelsDeutsche Grammophon, New World, Sony Classical
MembersEugene Drucker
Philip Setzer
Lawrence Dutton
Paul Watkins
Past membersGuillermo Figueroa
Eric Wilson
David Finckel

The Emerson Quartet was inducted into the Classical Music Hall of Fame in 2010.[5] As of May 2014, they have released more than thirty albums and won nine Grammy Awards, as well as the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize.[6][7][8]

In August 2021 the quartet announced its plan to disband at the end of the 2022–2023 season in order to focus on teaching and solo work.[9]


Longtime cellist David Finckel was replaced at the end of the 2012/13 concert season by Paul Watkins.[10]


In the early 1980s, Deutsche Grammophon chose the Emerson Quartet to begin a series of recordings of the string quartet literature to be released on the new CD digital format. Cellist David Finckel called this a "huge break" for the ensemble, allowing it to develop a worldwide audience for its performances.[11]


In addition to using their Stradivarius instruments, the Emerson quartet own instruments by Samuel Zygmuntowicz which they often favour in larger halls as they believe they have better projection. Violinist Eugene Drucker even says of his modern violin "In a large space like Carnegie Hall, the Zygmuntowicz is superior to my Strad. It has more power and punch."[12][better source needed]

Awards and recognitionEdit

Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance:

Grammy Award for Best Classical Album:

  • 1989 Bartók: 6 String Quartets
  • 2000 Shostakovich: The String Quartets

Gramophone Classical Music Awards:

  • Chamber (Record of the Year) 1989 - Bartók: String Quartets Nos. 1–6
  • Chamber 2000 – Shostakovich, Complete String Quartets (Nos 1–15

In 2002 the Quartet were the Music Directors of the Ojai Music Festival. They also played for the Oscar nominated short film, The Little Match Girl. They have also won the Avery Fisher Prize, and in 2010, were inducted into the Classical Music Hall of Fame, with a ceremony held in 2011.[6] In January 2015, the Quartet received the Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award, the highest award in the classical chamber music world.[13]


  • Volume I - Dvorák: Quartet No. 12 in F, Op. 96 "American;" Smetana: Quartet No. 1 in E "From My Life." (1990) Book of the Month Records
  • Volume II - Brahms: Quartet No. 1 in c, Op. 51; Schumann: Quartet in A, Op. 41, No. 3 (1990) Book of the Month Records
  • Volume III - Borodin: Quartet No. 2 in D; Tchaikovsky: Quartet No. 1 in D, Op.11 (1990) Book of the Month Records
  • Volume IV - Debussy: Quartet in g, Op. 10; Ravel: Quartet in F Major. (1990) Book of the Month Records
  • Piston: Concerto for String Quartet, Winds and Percussion (1990) Composers Recording Inc
  • Cowell: Quartet Euphometric; Harris: Three Variations on a Theme (Quartet No. 2) (1990) New World
  • Imbrie: Quartet No. 4; Schuller: Quartet No. 2 (1990) New World
  • Beethoven: Quartet in F, Op. 135; Schubert: Quartet in G, D. 887 (1990) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Dvorák: Quartet No. 12 in F, Op. 96 "American"; Smetana: Quartet No. 1 in E, "From My Life." (1990) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Debussy: Quartet in g, Op. 10; Ravel: Quartet in F (1990) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Tchaikovsky: Quartet No. 1 in D, Op. 11; Borodin: Quartet No. 2 in D (1990) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Mozart: Quartet in B-flat, K. 458 "Hunt"; Quartet in C, K. 465 "Dissonance"; Haydn: Quartet in C, Op. 76, No. 3 "Emperor (1990) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Brahms: Quartet No. 1 in c, Op. 51; Schumann: Quartet in A, Op. 41, No. 3 (1990) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Beethoven: Quartet in f, Op. 95; Schubert: Quartet No. 14 in d, D. 810 "Death and the Maiden" (1990) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Bartók: Complete String Quartets (1990) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Mozart: The "Haydn" Quartets (complete) (1992) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Mozart: The Flute Quartets with Carol Wincenc (1992) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Prokofiev: String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2/Sonata for 2 Violins (1992) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Schubert: String Quintet in C, D. 956 with Mstislav Rostropovich (1992) Deutsche Grammophon
  • American Originals: String Quartets of Ives and Barber (1993) Deutsche Grammophon
  • American Contemporaries: Harbison, Wernick, and Schuller (1994) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Dvorák: Quartet in E-flat, Op. 87; Quintet in A, Op. 81 with Menahem Pressler (1994) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Mozart: String Quartet in G, K. 387; String Quartet in d, K. 421 (1995) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Webern: Works for String Quartet/String Trio Op. 20 (1995) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Schumann Piano Quintet Op. 44/ Piano Quartet Op. 47 with Menahem Pressler (1996) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Beethoven: The String Quartets (Complete) (1997) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Beethoven: Key to the Quartets (1997) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Meyer: String Quintet/Rorem: String Quartet No. 4 with Edgar Meyer (1998) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Music of Curt Cacioppo: "Monsterslayer") (1998) Capstone Records
  • Schubert: String Quintet; Late Quartets (1999) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Mozart/Brahms: Clarinet Quintets with David Shifrin (1999) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Shostakovich: The String Quartets (complete) (2000) Deutsche Grammophon
  • The Haydn Project (2001) Deutsche Grammophon
  • The Emerson Encores (2002) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Bach: The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080 (2003) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Haydn: The Seven Last Words of our Savior on the Cross, Op. 51 (2004) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Mendelssohn: The Complete String Quartets (2005) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Intimate Voices (2006) Deutsche Grammophon
  • The Little Match Girl (2007) Disney
  • Brahms: String Quartets (2007) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Bach Fugues (2008) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Intimate Letters (2009) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Old World-New World (Dvorak) with Paul Neubauer (2010) Deutsche Grammophon
  • Mozart: The Prussian Quartets (2011) Sony Classical
  • Journeys: Tchaikovsky, Schönberg (2013) Sony Classical
  • Berg: Lyric Suite; Wellesz: Sonnets By Elizabeth Barrett Browning (2015) Decca
  • Emerson String Quartet: The Complete DG Recordings (2016) Deutsche Grammophon (52 CDs)
  • Chaconnes And Fantasias - Music Of Britten And Purcell (2017) Decca
  • Schumann - String Quartets (2020) PENTATONE

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Church, Michael. "Emerson String Quartet, St John’s, Smith Square, London, review: Thrilling performance of ineffable Beethoven fugue", The Independent (November 6, 2017).
  2. ^ "Emerson String Quartet". hope.edu. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  3. ^ "History of The Hartt School". hartford.edu. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  4. ^ "Emerson String Quartet". Carnegie Hall. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  5. ^ "View Inductees: Emerson String Quartet". classicalwalkoffame.org. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Emerson String Quartet". smithsonianassociates.org. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  7. ^ Huizenga, Tom. "The Emerson Quartet At (Le) Poisson Rouge". NPR.org. NPR.org. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  8. ^ Dischel, Robert S. (2000). Converging Lines: The Extraordinary Story of the Emerson String Quartet's First 25 Years. London: Risk Waters Group. ISBN 1-899332-68-5.
  9. ^ Hernández, Javier C. (26 August 2021). "Celebrated String Quartet Will Disband, Ending 47-Year Run". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 September 2021.
  10. ^ "Emerson String Quartet Announces Departure Of Cellist David Finckel | Emerson String Quartet". Emersonquartet.com. February 14, 2012. Retrieved March 10, 2012.
  11. ^ May, Thomas (28 September 2016). "The Emerson String Quartet Celebrates 40 Years". Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  12. ^ "5 World Class Soloists Actively Promoting Violin Making | MyLuthier Blog". www.myluthier.co. Retrieved 2022-08-08.
  13. ^ "Emerson String Quartet Set to Receive Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award". Emerson String Quartet. Retrieved January 16, 2015.

External linksEdit