Art of the Violin
for Four Violins
(see Art of the Recorder)
First composed in
first and last
movements recomposed June 19-24, 2004;
replaced February 2013
about 10 minutes
Recording from Feb. 18, 2014 concert, at Meredith College, Raleigh NC
Lin, Jenny Li, Harish Eswaran, violins
I. Just For Fun
II. Elegy for Izabela
III. An Original Traditional Melody
In 1975 I
wrote a recorder quartet for my father, Heber Robinson, who was an enthusiastic
recorder player with a group at the local Unitarian-Universalist Church in
Peabody, Massachusetts. However, the work was too contemporary for the other
performers, and the piece was never played.
In hopes of finding other performance
opportunities, I wrote a large number of arrangements for other instruments;
Art of the Violin, Art of the Flute, Art of the Double Reed, and Art of the
Saxophone. However none found a happy home. (Part of the gag—forgive me for
explaining a joke—was that this was an experiment in music that could be played
by any instruments that fit the range, after suitable transposition and
modification of phrasing or bowing. So it really isn’t the Art of any specific
In 2004 I decided that the piece must
be at fault, and I rewrote the first and last movements from scratch, keeping
nothing from the originals. I made new arrangements for four flutes and four
violins as before, Performers continued to shy away; the middle movement was
one of the most atonal I had ever written, slow and very short (only one
minute) and titled “So You Think I’m Too Old-Fashioned”. However even with this
kind of title, and the fact that it represented the usual reaction to my music
by my fellow composers, no one liked it.
Thus I was motivated by 38 years of
rejection to throw out the troublesome middle movement and write a new one. On
February 4, 2013, a fine local violinist, Izabela Spiewak, who had played on the
memorial concert for my sister in 2010, died of leukemia. This new middle
movement is an elegy in her memory.
made other arrangements for four flutes, four bassoons, and viola and three
cellos. The violin version is the only one yet performed (February 18, 2014). I
will probably continue to make such arrangements until someone stops me, or I
retire from composition.
is a junior at Duke University, majoring in biology and music. His principal
teachers at Duke have been Eric Pritchard and Claudia Warburg. Harish has
performed as a concerto soloist with the Bay Area Youth Symphony and Clear Lake
High School Orchestra and is a first violinist with the Duke Symphony
Orchestra. Harish hails from Houston, Texas and was a four year member of the
Texas Music Educators Association All –State Orchestras. He intends to apply to
medical school following graduation.
(Jingwei) Li is a sophomore from Hershey,
Pennsylvania pursuing a double major in global health and sociology. Last
March, as the winner of the annual concerto competition, Jenny performed the
first movement of the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the Duke Symphony
Orchestra. In addition to her personal study of violin with Eric Pritchard,
Jenny is currently a member of Duke Music Tutors, Arts and Health, and the Duke
Symphony Orchestra. When she is not immersed in her musical activities, Jenny
can usually be found studying or napping inside the
Duke University libraries, musing over books on societal flaws, tutoring in the
Duke Writing Studio, conducting cancer research, volunteering in the Duke
hospital with young patients, planning medical missions to underserved
communities, or teaching elementary school students about health.
Roman Lin is a violinist and pianist from Florence, SC who
plans to major in Chemistry and Music. He had studied violin for 13 years with
teachers Eric Pritchard and Sherry Woods. As a sophomore, Roman is a member of
the Duke Symphony Orchestra, with which he performed the Rondo from Mozart's
Violin Concerto No. 5 at a benefit concert last year in Beaufort, SC. He had
also performed the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Tar River Orchestra. In his
free time, Roman enjoys playing chamber music and reading about science.
Eric Pritchard, violinist, has been a member of Ciompi Quartet since 1995 and was
formerly the first violinist of the Alexander and Oxford Quartets. Mr.
Pritchard has taught at Miami University, San Francisco State University, City
University of New York and the North Carolina School of the Arts. He was winner
of the National Federation of Music Clubs Award in Violin as well as the
first-prize winner at the Portsmouth (England) International String Quartet
Competition and the Coleman and Fischoff national chamber music competitions.
He has performed widely as a recitalist and as soloist with the Boston Pops and
orchestras in Europe and South America. His major teachers were Eric
Rosenblith, Josef Gingold, Ivan Galamian and Isadore Tinkleman and he holds
degrees from Indiana University and the Juilliard School. He has performed many
works by Bill Robinson since 2006.