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st lawrence string quartet

Haydn discovery

Since 2014 the St. Lawrence String Quartet has offered “Haydn Discovery”, a unique in-concert presentation to help focus a spotlight on the seminal quartets of Franz Josef Haydn.

Most are aware that Haydn is considered the “father” of the string quartet format, and indeed the evolution between his first (op. 0 – really! - from 1762) to final (Op. 103, from 1803) efforts in the genre is astounding. 


But on today’s concert programs, Haydn is often the “opening act”, and treated as such – pleasant, unchallenging music to set the stage for the real “meat” of the program (Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Britten, Shostakovich, Adams, etc…..).  Sadly, even musicians do not always treat him with proper respect, conserving their energy for the works ahead.


Well, Geoff Nuttall and the St. Lawrence String Quartet are here to set things right!  It is time Haydn receives his due as a brilliant genius and master, and while SLSQ have been playing his works with characteristic passion and commitment since their first concert in 1989, they now aim to advance the cause through this creative program option.


The essential idea is to have Geoff lead a “Discovery Session” where Haydn’s unique and revolutionary attributes are examined in a respectful, informative, yet highly entertaining fashion.  A quartet will be explored and unpacked from various perspectives, and then performed for an audience who will listen with fresh (or refreshed) ears.  This approach- which Geoff calls “active listening” – is intended for everyone, whether attending their first or 500th concert.  Even those who know the music well will gain new insight into the magic of Haydn.  And Geoff is the perfect guide for this journey!  To quote the New York Times fabulous profile, Geoff is:  “The Jon Stewart of chamber music…He has established a new style of presentation that juxtaposes the ridiculous with the sublime, delves into serious musicology and casually uses technology. In short, he is subtly redefining what a chamber music concert can be.”


The primary format is to have “Haydn Discovery” as the first half of a program (it is between 45-55 minutes), with the second half comprising works by other composers (without commentary).

Note:  of course SLSQ continues to play standard format programs with no commentary, including one (or sometimes two) Haydn quartets.  We just want you to be aware of this option as you consider your desired SLSQ program!

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