String Quartet #1
(2nd Movement arranged as: "Adagio for String Orchestra")
by Ron Hannah

SQ Duration: about 17 minutes

Excerpt from Ingvar Nordin's review of the CD "Stringtime", which contains my

Ron Hannah's "String Quartet" - the longest piece on the CD with its eighteen minutes - is clothed in a more classical guise, but this time in a Webern - Berg - Schoenberg style, with chromatic twirls and fanciful dance figures appearing in a multilayered counterpoint in sometimes simultaneous but unequal tempi - very sophisticated! There is flair, an esprit here, of a certain airy intellectualism, very pleasing to a connoisseur of the fine things of life! It is classical also in its distribution across three movements, and the second movement is fittingly slow, introspective, in a remarkably beautiful intonation and a counterpoint that is devastatingly serene and clear, bringing you - I'm not kidding! - almost to tears. This is high art. I have to find out where I can obtain more CDs by Ron Hannah, because this string quartet makes it mandatory to go looking for further wonders. Masterly! The playing, too, leaves nothing more to wish for. It's perfect!

     My first attempt at the venerable String Quartet form is most successful, I think. So much so that the Penderecki Quartet recorded it for a CD called "Stringtime",
one of several produced by the Edmonton Composers' Concert Society (now called New Music Edmonton), and, with the quartet's permission it now also appears on the first CD devoted entirely to my music. One reviewer has expounded most enthusiastically on this recording! - see the review at right.

     You can tell by the original date of composition that it was a student work, but even so, one of my best. I have often been surprised, upon revisiting my


Featured on my 1st exclusive CD:

  Chamber Music / Musique de Chambre /  

Originally featured on
Canadian Chamber Music
early works, just how much I was able to put into them, and how good they appear to be! Some have impressed me so much that I have re-used them several times. That's not bragging. I was nearing the end of my studies with Violet Archer, and I think she enjoyed, too, the quartet's youthful panache. Certainly she encouraged further my growing technique. As a young and brazen student, I once interrupted a rehearsal of the University of Alberta String Quartet, headed by Thomas Rolston, and asked them if they would read through this work (wow, I can't believe I really did that!), and they graciously consented. I recall being struck by how dramatic the work is overall, how especially poignant is the second movement. You may click here for a list of subsequent performances.

     I, and the reviewer, especially like that second movement for its tender counterpoint (it is a double canon), and myself for the way it passes between consonant and dissonant sections. That movement was performed at my 70th birthday concert in Vienna, and I was deeply gratified by one of the violinists saying it "gives me goosebumps". I like it so much in fact, that I rewrote it as the slow movement of my Saxophone Quartet #1, and I even orchestrated it into my Mayan Opera ("The Weapons of the Weak"). Self-plagiarism is an established practice, in case you were wondering.

     And I'm not done: in 2017 I arranged that movement yet again and called it "Adagio for String Orchestra", in which form it was premiered in Yerevan, Armenia!

     To hear samples from the original quartet click on the buttons below. It will require the services of good players, and I think they will find the freely-tonal dissonant style appealing. Sadly, the Adagio has not been professionally recorded.

     If you wish to view sample scores, click below. To obtain full scores and parts, contact the Canadian Music Centre. Parts are also available through the CMC or by sending me an email, my only requirement being that if you decide to perform it that you send me performance details so I can keep this site up-to-date, not that anyone ever does :(

Sample Scores and Audio