String Quartet No. 1


String Quartet No. 1


for 2 violins, viola, and cello (1985)

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  • Premiere: 25 August 1985 / Tanglewood Music Festival, Lenox, MA
  • Instrumentation: 2 violins, viola, cello
  • Duration: 16'
  • "Commissioned by the Perpetuum Mobile Concert Series of Philadelphia in honor of Louis Krasner, 1985."
  • All orders are digital downloads. To order paper scores please visit our partner distributor, Theodore Front.

Hagen coaches the Voxare String Quartet during their String Quartet No. 1 recording session.

Program Note

Hagen has gained world renown for his vocal ­music, specifically opera.  The same soaring, melodic qualities that define his vocal music are found in his equally compelling instrumental music.

Today, Hagen's music is primarily composed in a tonal idiom; however, he freely draws from atonal methods such as serialism, pitch class sets, and polytonality.  The most striking feature of his music is its lyricism.  His music has been described as "modernist-expressionist, tonal but freely dissonant."

Hagen's String Quartet No. 1 (1985) was commissioned by the Perpetuum Mobile Concert Series of Philadelphia and first performed 25 August 1985 at the Tanglewood Music Festival, in Lenox, Massachusetts.  The quartet, an early work, was composed while Hagen was studying with David Diamond at Juilliard.  Written in honor of Louis Krasner, a Ukranian-born American violinist best known for premiering concertos by Alban Berg and Arnold Schoenberg, Hagen draws heavily from the expressionist language of Berg and Schoenberg.

The quartet is cast in three movements, each of which begins with a viola solo.  The first movement is constructed as a series of episodes of differing tempi and melodic content.  After an introduction that alternates between pizzicato and arco fragments, two broad, lyrical episodes flank a vigorous central section.  The second movement is a chaconne, with the bulk of the melodic content played by the viola and cello while accompanied by muted violins.  The third movement is a fuga-rondo, once again episodic in nature.  After a violent climax, the movement unwinds to an introspective conclusion.

-- Erik Peterson


Things picked up with Daron Hagen's Quartet No. 1. The composer's freshman effort begins with spare motivic gestures suggesting Anton Webern, but then traverses the Second Viennese School through Alban Berg and ends up in the relative comfort of Erich Korngold. At first, I feared more academic note-spinning, but the piece gives listeners what they need - a succession of distinctive ideas flowing in a coherent musical narrative ... it provoked interest in Hagen's other quartets, all three of which will be released by the Voxare on Naxos this year. [Performance by the Voxare Quartet at the Phillips Collection].

— Robert BatteyWashington Post2/13/12

(Banner photo: The Voxare String Quartet)