The Emerson String Quartet has maintained its status as one of the world’s premier chamber music ensembles for more than four decades. “With musicians like this,” wrote a reviewer for The Times (London), “there must be some hope for humanity.” The Quartet has made more than 30 acclaimed recordings, and has been honored with nine GRAMMYs® (including two for Best Classical Album), three Gramophone Awards, the Avery Fisher Prize, and Musical America’s “Ensemble of the Year” award. The Quartet collaborates with some of today’s most esteemed composers to premiere new works, keeping the string quartet form alive and relevant. The group has partnered in performance with such stellar soloists as Reneé Fleming, Barbara Hannigan, Evgeny Kissin, Emanuel Ax, and Yefim Bronfman, to name a few.
The Emerson String Quartet’s 2019-2020 season, which begins with a seven-city tour of Australia, includes a number of high-profile projects. Among the North American highlights is a three-concert stint at Lincoln Center’s Great Performers Series featuring Beethoven’s “Razumovsky” Quartets and the complete Bartok cycle. The Quartet performs in its 41st series at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and makes appearances at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, Friends of Chamber Music in Vancouver, Wharton Center for Performing Arts in East Lansing, MI, South Mountain Concerts, Wooster Chamber Music, Chamber Music Cincinnati, Chamber Music Louisville and Friends of Music Concerts in Millwood, NY. Overseas, the Quartet performs the complete Beethoven Cycle at the Seoul International Music Festival, and embarks on three European tours, with stops in Serbia, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Poland, and Spain.
The Quartet’s extensive discography includes the complete string quartets of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Bartok, Webern, and Shostakovich, as well as multi-CD sets of the major works of Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, and Dvorak. The ensemble also has recorded music by Tchaikovsky, Smetana, Debussy, Ravel, Barber, and Ives. In April of 2019, the Quartet joined forces with GRAMMY®-winning pianist Evgeny Kissin to release their debut collaborative album for Deutsche Grammophon, recorded live at a sold-out Carnegie Hall concert in 2018.
Formed in 1976 and based in New York City, the Emerson String Quartet was one of the first quartets to have its violinists alternate in the first chair position. The Quartet, which takes its name from the American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, balances busy performing careers with a commitment to teaching, and serves as Quartet-in-Residence at Stony Brook University. In 2013, cellist Paul Watkins—a distinguished soloist, award-wining conductor, and devoted chamber musician—joined the original members of the Quartet to form today’s group. In the spring of 2016, the State University of New York awardedfull-time Stony Brook faculty members Philip Setzer and Lawrence Dutton the status of Distinguished Professor, and conferred the title of Honorary Distinguished Professor on part-time faculty members Eugene Drucker and Paul Watkins. The Quartet’s members previously had received honorary doctorates from Middlebury College, the College of Wooster, Bard College, and the University of Hartford. In January of 2015, the Quartet received the Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award, Chamber Music America’s highest honor, in recognition of its significant and lasting contribution to the chamber music field.
The Emerson String Quartet enthusiastically endorses Thomastik strings.