News archives

(July 2013)

 JSQ welcomes Roger Tapping and looks ahead to the 2013-14 season.

Taking the stage together with Samuel Rhodes, Roger Tapping joined the Juilliard String Quartet in a special farewell concert at Ravinia on July 10, celebrating Mr. Rhodes’s remarkable 44 years as the Quartet’s violist.  (Chicago Tribune review)

In its first season with Mr. Tapping, the Juilliard Quartet’s 2013-14 engagements include performances in New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Amsterdam, and Vienna. The season also features a special concert in Dallas with guest pianist Leon Fleisher, as well as premiere performances of  a new string quartet by Rome Prize-winning composer Jesse Jones, his Quartet No. 3, “Whereof man cannot speak . . . .”   Mr. Jones writes of his piece:

In his famous Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 20th-century philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein coined the phrase “Whereof man cannot speak, thereof he must be silent.” Growing up, I often heard a variant of this terse aphorism, usually from my mother, whose motto in life (among many others) was, “If you don’t know what you’re talking about, you best not say anything at all.” This was usually her esoteric way of saying, “Son, you’re full of it and you know it, and you aren’t going to pull that over on me,” but she also used it effectively to remind herself and her family that guarding both tongue and temper is smart and virtuous, especially when words fall short and emotions run high.

My mother died right around the time I began work on this string quartet, and in the wake of her passing I found myself experiencing many intense emotions, most of which I could not fully explain in words. It was then that I realized: one need not be silent about the inarticulable, as Wittgenstein claims; one has the option of making music! And music it was, the writing of this my third string quartet, which helped assuage those emotions of loss, heartbreak, yearning, and even anger, eventually leading to a type of catharsis and spiritual acceptance.

“Whereof man cannot speak . . .” is thus a musical expression of all those feelings for which I could find no words. This piece is played continuously, without pause, but can be divided into five main sections or episodes, which mirror what I would describe as my personal grief cycle: 1) a still, blurry sadness, 2) a faster fluttering of more playful memories, 3) a yearning lyricism, countered by dancing buoyancy, 4) an all-consuming frustration and anger, and finally 5) a progression into peace and acceptance.


(October 2012)

After 44 seasons, violist Samuel Rhodes to retire from the Juilliard String Quartet in July 2013.  Roger Tapping joins the JSQ beginning September 2013. 

read the Juilliard School press release

From Samuel Rhodes’s farewell letter:   “My 44th season with the Juilliard String Quartet began one month ago to the inspiring sounds of late Beethoven and Elliott Carter ringing in the air.  As the echo   of these masterworks still resounds in my ears, it is with mixed feelings of great regret and joyous anticipation of the future that I am announcing to you that it will be my last season.   

Photo: Nan Melville

Even though I am still in very good health and I sense that my playing skills are undiminished, I feel that I have reached a certain age where I must use what time I may have left for things other than the string quartet to which I have been so dedicated for so many years. It will be difficult to leave my three incomparable colleagues and the awe-inspiringly beautiful music that have been so much a part of my existence for so long, but I am sure that, at this time of my life, this is the right thing to do. I am grateful for the privilege I have had to rehearse, debate, recreate and perform the most profound, intimate and sometimes heaven-storming music of all the great composers of the past and of our own times on a daily basis. The constant interaction, musical and otherwise, with three sensitive and intelligent colleagues taking part in our own “quartet universe” is also something that I will miss. This truly must be the best “job” a musician and a violist can have!

The violist who has accepted my colleagues’ invitation to join them, Roger Tapping, has the artistry, experience and expertise to take part in carrying the quartet forward with the same spirit and ideals as it has had in the past. I am very proud to have him take over the viola position and wish him the best in his new life.”

Roger Tapping writes, “I can’t believe how fortunate I am to have the chance to play string quartets again, and, incredibly, in this quartet with its great curiosity and soul and its rich and distinguished history. I’m still pinching myself. Sam Rhodes is the most inspiring role model in every way – a beautiful player and a great example of warmth, intelligence and humility. I wish him a wonderful farewell season, and I will always have him in mind as I look forward to many happy years ahead with my new colleagues.”

Photo: Nan Melville

From the continuing members of the Quartet:  “We are pleased and excited to welcome Roger Tapping to the proudly shared tradition of the Juilliard Quartet. Roger is a passionate chamber musician and an inspiring teacher. It is a privilege to join with him in rehearsing and performing the great string quartet repertoire, and we look forward to many years of musical adventures together.”

In celebration of Samuel Rhodes’ farewell season and this transition, the JSQ presents three special concerts bringing together the two violists in performances of quintets by Rhodes and Mozart:

Beethoven String Quartet in F major, op. 135

Rhodes String Quintet

Mozart String Quintet in D major, K. 593

This unique program will be offered in Philadelphia on February 24, 2013, New York at Alice Tully Hall on February 26, 2013, and at Ravinia on July 10, 2013 (Samuel Rhodes’ farewell concert).

more information on Roger Tapping


 (June 2012)

  • JSQ announces its programs for the 2013-14 season, including a new work by American composer Jesse Jones, winner of the 2012 Elliott Carter Rome Prize. Full program info   Mr. Jones has kindly offered the following remarks as he prepares for his year at the American Academy in Rome.

I am thrilled and honored to compose a piece for the Juilliard String Quartet.  The depth of their knowledge and devotion to music, old and new, as well as the intent, urgency, and authority with which they play it, has inspired me since my youth.  Much of what I love in music I first discovered in JSQ recordings, and so I take this commission very seriously.    

I am especially excited to work again with Joseph Lin, who, through repeat performances of my violin concerto (For a Faded Mind), has championed my music for several years now.  Joseph has inspired me again and again with his masterful playing (especially of Bach), and the care and thought he gives to each note has caused me to rethink my approach to composition.  I am certain my friendship with Joseph will play an important role in the piece I write for the JSQ.

Formally, my piece will have five movements, each referencing a certain poetic text The music will explore the spiritual and literal dimensions of religious mysticism and symbolism, as embodied in certain poetry: Yeats, Aquinas, Lamartine, etc.  To achieve this, I intend to wed musical aspects of certain texts with luminous microtonal harmonies, in hopes to create a sonic embodiment of their unspoken, spiritual “meaning.”  In other words, I intend to create a sounding board from which the sentiments of the texts, without actually being spoken, can freely resonate in the listener.  For this I plan to transcribe and orchestrate samples of the human voice—inflected speech, sighs, and song—so that the music flows directly from the sinew of genuine human expression. 

For more information about Jesse Jones, and to listen to excerpts of his violin concerto performed by Joseph Lin, please visit:



(June 2011)

  • At the 2011 Starling-DeLay Symposium on Violin Studies, Joseph Lin, Ronald Copes, Joel Krosnick and Samuel Rhodes performed and discussed the collaborative process of the Juilliard String Quartet.  Read the article on



(February 2011)

  • On the occasion of the 2011 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award given to the Juilliard String Quartet, esteemed pianist Emanuel Ax describes the JSQ as an essential and vibrant part of American chamber music.  Read the tribute in the  Grammy Special Merit Awards booklet.