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Arnold Steinhardt is the first violinist and a founding member of the Guarneri Quartet. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.
There are few good books written from inside a notable string quartet, and Steinhardt's effort is a charming one. Having been together for 35 years, the Guarneri quartet, with John Dalley, Michael Tree, David Soyer and Steinhardt as first violin, is the oldest American group to have preserved the same membership. With self-effacing modesty (he is the first to insist that the first violin is not necessarily the leader of the group, though he may play a prominent role), Steinhardt describes both his own career and that of the group. He could have been a soloist or a successful orchestral musician, like most chamber players, but chose otherwise. The reasons he givesÄthe unwillingness to be regimented, the need for companionship on the road, the closeness to the musicÄare cogent ones, but a chamber group with permanent membership is an extraordinary organism all the same. Steinhardt skillfully describes the tensions, the long-running jokes, the arguments, the determinedly separate vacationsÄand the ecstasy when all the skills and long hours of practice come together in performances that strike to the heart of some of the most intimate music ever composed. The Guarneri, while not perhaps the most glamorous of American quartets, has well deserved its sturdy longevity, and Steinhardt's book gives an excellent sense of the dynamics that have kept it going. A discography of this much-recorded group would have been a welcome addition. (Nov.)
The Guarneri String Quartet, formed 35 years ago by Steinhardt, John Dalley, Michael Tree, and David Soyer, may owe its legendary longevity to any number of elements Steinhardt describes in this cheerful, informative chronicle. That they continue to "have fun" playing great music together may be fundamental to their continuance, but Steinhardt's readers will conclude that the aesthetic and intellectual growth such a long, vivacious, trusting association has afforded them is equally important. This is Steinhardt's musical autobiography, but in addition to commentary on the other quartet members and their interaction, it also contains Steinhardt's engaging musings on four-part music in general, amateur string players, and particular pieces of the repertoire. Recordings, a film, articles, and other books document the group's history, but this inside view from its first violinist, filled with new stories told with great happiness, will be welcomed by all who know and love their work. Recommended.‘Bonnie Jo Dopp, Univ. of Maryland Lib., College Park
"As one-fourth of what may be the longest-running string quartet in musical history, Arnold Steinhardt is ideally equipped to describe the life and times of a world-renowned musical ensemble. It's a wonderfully informative and entertaining memoir. Please read this book." --Gary Graffman, Curtis Institute Newsletter "I enjoyed this tremendously. Arnold Steinhardt's account of the joys and ordeals of a life chamber musi is charmingly written and marvelously entertaining. It is also very touching because one feels his love of music on every page." --Richard Goode "The Guaneri Quartet [is] known for the elegance, charm, clarity and passion of their playing, and Steinhardt's writting has all the same virtues." --Justin Davidson, Newsday