String Quartet no. 2

String Quartet no. 2


in three movements (14')

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Cohesive and approachable ... Wadsworth’s piece seemed to draw in the audience and hold it in rapturous mid-air before it landed in applause.
— Regina DeAngelo, The New Haven Independent

Winner of the 2008 Chamber Music Rochester Young Composer Competition

in three movements

Completed in April, 2006.

Dedicated to the memory of Eileen Petersilia. World premiere on April 27, 2006 at Yale University, performed by Caroline Shaw and Robert Gupta (violins), Alisa Seavey (viola), and Ashley Bathgate (cello).


When writing a string quartet, a modern composer is forced to reconcile his voice with the weight of the ensemble’s tradition. In my first quartet (2002), I tried to avoid this issue, composing whatever music came to mind for these four instruments. In this second quartet (2006), however, I attempt to reconcile my own, modern musical voice with this huge weight of tradition.

The first movement, Fantasy, is a mix between a Rondo and a Theme & Variations. Counter to tradition, however, the Haydn-like theme appears at the very end of the movement. The second movement, Hymn, incorporates the distinct tradition of American hymnody (without literally quoting any existing hymn tunes). Two quite different hymns are presented alone, then in counterpoint with one another. The third movement, Presto, begins with an initial statement of a short motive, then growing into a full fugue. Only a minute or two into this fugue, however, the music suddenly grinds to a halt, and the piece ends introspectively, bringing back elements of the middle movement. In this case, I felt that traditional forms failed to express the spontaneity and emotional variety of day-to-day life, and I ended the piece in the most honest way I could.

This piece is dedicated to the memory of Eileen Petersilia.

This digital download includes a full score and a complete set of parts,


This recording comes from a 2006 recording session with Caroline Shaw and Robert Gupta (violins), Alisa Seavey (viola), and Ashley Bathgate (cello).

I. Fantasy

III. Presto