Untitled (Thomas Brand gewidmet) for String Quartet

by lylechan on May 2, 2015

Update, June 2015: The following recording was made at Australia Hall on May 28, which was piece’s second performance. My gratitude to Fine Music 102.5 FM for permission to share the recording and of course Acacia Quartet for the heartfelt performance.

On 23 and 28 May, my dear friends the Acacia Quartet will give the first performance of a section of my String Quartet written exactly ten years ago as a gift for a friend. Many of my pieces have no titles, because I didn’t catch their name…. But maybe one will come. Concert details here and here.

The untitled work was composed in 2005 for my dear friend Thomas Brand, who used to host string quartet concerts and public rehearsals at his Surry Hills apartment. I remember those long music-filled days and nights. The audience would be sprawled around the living room, and there’d be lots of food on a nearby table. You could go onto the balcony if you wanted a break from the music. They’d start in the afternoon and go into the night through the changing of the light, so late that I never stayed till the end. I remember one Easter weekend with loving performances of Death and the Maiden and of Souvenirs de Florence, for which the quartet was joined by friends. I remember lots and lots of Mozart.

Thomas himself was not a musician, simply one of those souls who lived out a life around music. A keen opera devotee, he was born in Germany and came to Australia soon after I did. At the time I wrote this piece, we were concert buddies and sailing buddies. Wagner has always been his favourite composer, so I subtly quoted the Good Friday spell from Parsifal in this piece, intending for it to be performed at another Easter weekend. But the quartet’s leader Mickey moved to San Francisco soon after, and so this tribute to a friendship has waited till now for its first performance.

I wrote it thinking that Thomas’ apartment concerts were exactly how chamber music originated, concerts at home, and that’s how the music of Haydn and Mozart were enjoyed. I’m thrilled that even though the premiere didn’t take place at his home ten years ago, it will now happen in the Rose Room in Burradoo, a magnificent and intimate concert space built into the home of a music lover.

Thomas is a well-loved, senior figure in the hotel industry and I smiled when I found this photo of him taken by a very satisfied customer at the Fairmont Hotel in the Blue Mountains. Thomas always knows how to be the perfect host.

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