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A Recitation of T. S. Eliot’s

Four Quartets by John Farrell 

A Performance of Beethoven’s

String Quartet in A Minor, Opus 132

This unique program – a recitation from memory of T. S. Eliot's poetic masterwork together with a performance of the Beethoven string quartet that inspired Eliot's poem—offers audiences a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience in close succession the crowning artistic achievements of these peerless masters.

Words Move|Music Moves

Beyond illuminating the musical dimension of Four Quartets and the philosophical dimension of the late string quartets, the juxtaposition of Beethoven's music and Eliot's poetry reveals a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. In tandem with a professional string quartet selected by the presenter, John's recitation opens space for listeners to devise their own understanding of the varied and elusive relationships between Eliot and Beethoven.

Beethoven composed the A Minor Quartet after recovering from a nearly fatal illness just two years before his death. Eliot completed Four Quartets as Britain slid into the abyss of World War II, fearing that civilization itself might perish in the coming years. Both men were working at the height of their creative energies under pressures that imbued these two works with great spiritual depth and intensity.

Shortly before beginning work on Four Quartets in 1935, Eliot wrote in a letter to Stephen Spender, "I have the A Minor Quartet on the gramophone, and I find it quite inexhaustible to study. There is a sort of heavenly, or at least more than human gaiety, about some of his later things which one imagines might come to oneself as the fruit of reconciliation and relief after immense suffering; I should like to get something of that into verse before I die."

Beethoven's A Minor Quartet and Eliot's Four Quartets represent efforts by each man to address the most fundamental questions of human existence. Presented together they reflect upon and amplify one another in an infinitely stimulating artistic dynamic. We hope that Words Move/Music Moves will spark conversations long after the performance is over about music and poetry, about the parallels between Beethoven and Eliot as human beings, about the spiritual dimensions of their art, and about other, unanticipated connections yet to be discovered.

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