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February 18, 2010

This Day in UMS History: Guarneri String Quartet (Feb 18, 1986)

By Paula Muldoon

February 18, 1986
Rackham Auditorium, Ann Arbor

Guarneri String Quartet
Arnold Steinhardt & John Dalley, violins
Michael Tree, viola David Soyer, cello

One of the first questions I was asked at UMS was “What event are you most excited for this season?”  “The Guarneri Quartet!” was my enthusiastic response.  I grew up on their recording (the earlier version) of the Beethoven string quartets.  I heard my violin teacher tell stories about Michael Tree playing passages in the Mendelssohn Octet over the bridge to make sure he could be heard.  I had read and loved Arnold Steinhardt’s two books, Indivisible by Four and Violin Dreams.  And so I was pretty excited that UMS had snagged them on their farewell tour, and that I would get to hear them play two late Beethoven quartets.

This 1986 performance was already the Guarneri’s 20th performance with UMS.  They were in the midst of a Beethoven cycle, performing the Quartets in Eb major, Op. 74 (“The Harp”), A major, Op. 18 #5, and e minor, Op. 59 #2.  This formation, of course, had their original cellist, David Soyer.  (The group was founded in 1964 and retained all its original members until Mr. Soyer retired in 2001 and was replaced by his student and former Beaux Arts Trio cellist Peter Wiley.)  The Guarneri Quartet returned in the 1986-1987 season to finish off their Beethoven cycle.

“This day in UMS History” is an occasional series of vignettes drawn from UMS’s historical archive.   If you have a personal story or particular memory from attending the performance featured here, we’d love to hear from you in the comments.


Paula Muldoon is a UMS Marketing Intern. She recently graduated from the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance with a degree in violin performance.