Eliot’s Words + Beethoven’s Music


T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets and Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet in A-Minor,        Opus 132

JOHN FARRELL, a principal in Maine’s groundbreaking Figures of Speech Theatre, recites from memory Four Quartets, a suite of poems often considered T.S. Eliot’s greatest. First undertaken in 2011 with permission — rarely granted — from Eliot’s estate, Farrell’s recitation of Four Quartets affords audiences an opportunity to immerse themselves in 1,000 lines of poetry exploring humankind’s relationship with time and with experience itself. One review notes that Farrell “opens the text in ways beyond the ability of the solitary reader.”

In a 1935 letter to Stephen Spender, Eliot wrote of Beethoven’s A-Minor String Quartet (Opus 132): “I find it quite inexhaustible to study. There is sort of heavenly, or at least more than human gaiety about [it]. . .which 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.”

Performed alternately, Eliot’s words and Beethoven’s music amplify one another in an infinitely stimulating artistic dynamic. Opus 132 will be played by distinguished musicians JOEL PITCHON (violin), KATHERINE WINTERSTEIN (violin), RONALD CARBONE (viola), and VOLCY PELLETIER (cello).

Presented in collaboration with the Smith Music Department’s Sage Chamber Music Society and supported by the Department of English Language and Literature