Opus 76 Quartet

Eat, Drink, Play 'Family Fun'
with Opus 76 Quartet

March 4, 2021 - March 18, 2021 | VIRTUAL EVENT

Past Event

A link to access the stream will be sent 24 hours before showtime for your exclusive viewing experience.

Gather the family for some entertaining chamber music and enjoy a local chef preparing a yummy winter treat!

Midwest Trust Center and Opus 76 Quartet kick off 2021 with their second “Eat, Drink, Play!” episode – winter recital “Family Fun!” – at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 4. Tickets are $15/household. After purchase, a link to the recital will be sent 24 hours before the first day of access. The recital is available on-demand through March 18.

This fun “family night in” concert is approximately one hour in length and features lively performances and engaging programming. Additionally, a cameo with Chef Philip Rodgers from St. Agnes School will show you how to prepare Meatball Subs, a kid-friendly meal you can prepare together! The recipe will be shared at the time of purchase. The recital is filmed in Yardley Hall.


The Goldilocks Quartet by Leia Barrett
String Quartet No. 12 in F Major, Op. 96, The American, by Antonín Dvořák (Movements 1 and 4) (13 minutes)

Program Notes

The Goldilocks Quartet by Leia Barrett (25 minutes)
Music by J.S. Bach, Vivaldi, Johann Strauss I, Ravel, Debussy, W.A. Mozart and Dvořák
Narrated by Emily Behrmann, General Manager, Midwest Trust Center

The Goldilocks Quartet, written for string quartet and narrator, is a charming re-telling of the classic tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The piece introduces children to the string family.

Antonín Dvořák was a prolific composer for his era, completing 14 string quartets and many other chamber works with and without piano. This quartet is perhaps his most popular and balances two contrary impulses: his curiosity about foreign lands and a deep-seated love for his native Bohemia, which he missed greatly while abroad.

To support his large family, the composer accepted an offer from Jeannette Thurber in New York City. Through her husband’s grocery fortune, she founded the National Conservatory of Music in the model of the Paris Conservatoire. Now largely forgotten, the conservatory was one of the most fervid efforts to promote classical music in the U.S. and was ahead of its time, allowing both non-white and female students.

In 1892, Dvořák became director of the new institution, where he taught composition. Many of the most vivid descriptions of Dvořák come from this period, including his gruff but caring teaching demeanor and fear of New York’s intense public spaces.

During the summer, Dvořák accepted an offer from his violinist secretary to visit his hometown of Spillville, Iowa, so he could compose surrounded by nature. The beautiful scenery, along with the Bohemian immigrant community, reminded Dvořák of home. Dvořák kept a schedule of early mornings and long walks and served as the church organist while he composed on the only piano in town. He wrote a string quartet in just 18 days. “I wanted to write something for once that was very melodious and straightforward, and dear Papa Haydn kept appearing before my eyes, and that is why it all turned out so simply. And it’s good that it did.”

By “simply,” he likely meant that most of the quartet has one clear melody, with the other parts serving as accompaniment. The ostinati (repeated rhythms) and harmonic clarity help make the music easily accessible. Its melodic contours focus around a pentatonic, or folkstyle, scale. Dvořák was interested in African American spirituals, as well as Native American songs, and suggested those should be a source for a national style of composing. Some commentators hear such influences in the “American” quartet, although the only sure imprint is that of birdsongs, which Dvořák notated on his shirt cuff during his walks.

Dvořák played the new quartet for the family who brought him to Iowa, and subsequently wrote a string quintet. He entrusted a formal premiere of Op. 96 in Boston to the professional Kneisel Quartet. From New Year’s Day 1894 through 1895, they played the new piece about 50 times. While Dvořák’s stay at the conservatory proved short, it led to some of his best-loved music, including “The American” quartet. “I should never have written these works just so’ if I hadn’t seen America.”