About the Amenda Quartet

            The Amenda Quartet was founded in Rochester, NY in 2010 by four friends who share a consuming passion for the extraordinary body of music composed for two violins, a viola and a cello.  This perfect combination of instruments has inspired nearly every great composer since Haydn to reach their highest achievements.  And so it was with Ludwig van Beethoven, perhaps best known for his symphonies and his piano works, such as the “Moonlight Sonata” and the ever-popular “Für Elise”.  Beethoven wrote sixteen string quartets which span his lifetime. Within them one finds expressed the spectrum of human experience: joy and anger, jocularity and gravity, despair and exaltation.

    Many string players dream of performing all of the Beethoven quartets; Patricia Sunwoo, David Brickman, Melissa Matson and Mimi Hwang are living the dream! 
Each brings to the ensemble vast experience as a performer and teacher.  Unlike an orchestra, a string quartet has no maestro on the podium controlling the parameters of the performance.  The Amenda Quartet is a true democracy.  It is through the process of rehearsing that an interpretation is honed and details of tempo, volume, articulation and musical color decided.  fine string quartet engages in a musical “conversation”, where changes in expression require split-second responsiveness and give new, subtle shades of meaning to the music.  This spontaneity infuses a performance with vitality and is immensely rewarding to the musicians and audiences alike.    

    You can experience the full power and subtlety of these masterpieces by attending the Amenda's performances as part of Project Ludwig: The Complete Beethoven String Quartets ! All sixteen quartets will be performed in this series of eleven concerts at ten different venues in and around Rochester from September 2015 to June 2016. Join us for as many performances as you can!
How the Amenda Quartet found its Name
    Coming up with an original name for a string quartet is nearly as challenging as assembling the personnel! Wanting to reflect the fairly specific goal of the musicians, they researched various aspects of Beethoven's life as it pertained to the quartets - and decided that naming themselves after one of Beethoven's best friends and chamber music buddies would be perfect! Here's an excerpt from Maynard Solomon's spectacular biography of Beethoven: 

From Maynard Solomon's Beethoven:

    In Vienna, this series of exaggeratedly romantic friendships continued, first with Lorenz von Breuning (1777-98), who arrived there in 1794 for a stay of three years, and then with Karl Friedrich Amenda (1771-1836), a violinist and theology student who arrived in the spring of 1798, just in time to fill the void left by Lorenz's departure the previous fall.  As a talented young violinist, who was also employed as a reader and music teacher by Princess Karloine Lobkowitz and Constanze Mozart respectively, he quickly made Beethoven's acquaintance and soon, in the words of a contemporary document, "captured Beethoven's heart."  They became such inseparable companions that when one was seen alone people would call out, "Where is the other one?" Beethoven gave Amenda a manuscript copy of the String Quartet in F op. 18 no. 1, with a warm dedicatory message and, prior to Amenda's permanent return to his native Latvia in the fall of 1799 to become a pastor, he played the Adagio of the quartet for him.  "'It pictured for me the parting of two lovers,'" said Amenda.  "'Good!'" said Beethoven, "'I thought of the scene in the burial vault in Romeo and Juliet.'"  ........  Beethoven wrote of Amenda to Ferdinand Reis in 1804, "Although for almost six years neither of us has had news of the other, yet I know that I hold the first place in his heart, just as he holds it in mine."