String Quartet No. 2

String Quartet, no. 2 is an original composition for standard string quartet that was the primary document for the composer’s doctoral dissertation from the University of Maryland. While the piece is intended primarily as a stand-alone creative work, it was approached as a something of a career touchstone. Stylistically, the quartet is a transitional work, combining elements from past technique with forward-looking techniques and language.

The quartet is divided into four movements. At the University of Maryland, a frequent topic of discussion was that of sectionalism in music composition, which is to say the aesthetic of juxtaposition of different musical elements as opposed to composition using a unified texture or a gradual transformation between ideas. As a result of these discussions, the composer chose to┬áconsciously pursue a unified versus a sectional approach. The four movements are organized as follows: a thematic fast movement composed of short elemental themes, a slow movement centered around two canons (one atonal and one modal), a dance movement that uses the baroque minuet and trio as a template, and a dramatic, texture-driven finale. In this way, the macro-structure serves as a kind of homage to classical tradition, an appropriate approach since the piece occasionally serves as an homage to older elements the composer’s own style. However, the classical model only applies to this macro-level of the composition. Most elements within each movement depart significantly from traditional classical forms, just as Arbury’s style has macro-elements of classical form and technique that dissipate upon closer scrutiny.

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