Dedicated to Thurston Dart, Michael Nyman’s professor at King’s College, London, much of String Quartet No. 1 borrows and is inspired by the works of seventeenth century composer John Bull – whose complete keyboard works Dart gave Nyman as a birthday present. The other main source of inspiration was Schöneberg’s Second String Quartet from the early 20th century.
In his introduction to the piece Nyman describes his two background ideas when composing the work: first, to make an almost ‘orchestral’ chamber music and second, to exorcise the impressive and oppressive history of the String quartet by making his work a compendium of quotations from the quartet repertoire. Commissioned by the Arditti Quartet and first performed by them in 1985, String Quartet No. 1 has a duration of 25:44 minutes.
Michael Nyman is an English composer of minimalist music, pianist, librettist and musicologist, known for numerous film, and his multi-platinum soundtrack album to ‘The Piano’. He has additionally written a number of operas, six concerti, four string quartets, and many other chamber works.