Recognized as one of the world’s great ensembles, the Takács Quartet plays with a unique blend of drama, warmth and humor, combining four distinct musical personalities to bring fresh insights to the string quartet repertoire. For thirty-two years the ensemble has been in residence at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
In 2015-2016, the Takács returns to Carnegie Hall for two programs, one featuring a new work by composer Timo Andres, commissioned by Carnegie Hall, and one with pianist Garrick Ohlsson. They also perform with Mr. Ohlsson at Stanford, the University of Richmond, Spivey Hall in Atlanta, and at the University of Florida. For the first time in many years the Takács will perform in Santiago, Chile, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In addition to their annual Wigmore Hall series in London, where the quartet are Associate Artists, other European engagements in 2015-2016 include performances in Oslo, Amsterdam, Budapest, Hamburg, Hannover, Brussels, Bilbao and a concert at the Schubertiade in Hohenems, Austria.
The Takacs Quartet performs Philip Roth’s “Everyman” program with Meryl Streep at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto in October 2015, a program that they previously played with Ms. Streep at Princeton in 2014. The program was conceived in close collaboration with Philip Roth and first performed at Carnegie Hall with Philip Seymour Hoffman in 2007. The Quartet is known for such innovative programming. They have toured 14 cities with the poet Robert Pinsky, collaborate regularly with the Hungarian Folk group Muzsikas, and in 2010 they collaborated with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and David Lawrence Morse on a drama project that explored the composition of Beethoven’s last quartets.
During the 2016-2017 season, the ensemble will perform complete 6-concert Beethoven quartet cycles at the Wigmore Hall, Princeton, the University of Michigan, and at UC Berkeley. In advance of these cycles Takacs first violinist Edward Dusinberre’s book, Beethoven for a Later Age: The Journey of a String Quartet, will be published by Faber and Faber in January 2016. The book takes the reader inside the life of a string quartet, melding music history and memoir as it explores the circumstances surrounding the composition of Beethoven’s quartets.
The Takács became the first string quartet to win the Wigmore Hall Medal in May 2014. The Medal, inaugurated in 2007, recognizes major international artists who have a strong association with the Hall. Recipients so far include Andras Schiff, Thomas Quasthoff, Menachem Pressler and Dame Felicity Lott. In 2012, Gramophone announced that the Takács was the only string quartet to be inducted into its first Hall of Fame, along with such legendary artists as Jascha Heifetz, Leonard Bernstein and Dame Janet Baker. The ensemble also won the 2011 Award for Chamber Music and Song presented by the Royal Philharmonic Society in London.
The members of the Takács Quartet are Christoffersen Faculty Fellows at the University of Colorado Boulder. The Quartet has helped to develop a string program with a special emphasis on chamber music, where students work in a nurturing environment designed to help them develop their artistry. The Quartet’s commitment to teaching is enhanced by summer residencies at the Aspen Festival and at the Music Academy of the West, Santa Barbara. The members of the Takács are Visiting Fellows at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London.
The Quartet’s award-winning recordings include the complete Beethoven Cycle on the Decca label. In 2005 the Late Beethoven Quartets won Disc of the Year and Chamber Award from BBC Music Magazine, a Gramophone Award, Album of the Year at the Brit Awards and a Japanese Record Academy Award. Their recordings of the early and middle Beethoven quartets collected a Grammy, another Gramophone Award, a Chamber Music of America Award and two further awards from the Japanese Recording Academy. Of their performances and recordings of the Late Quartets, the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote “The Takács might play this repertoire better than any quartet of the past or present.”
In 2006 the Takács Quartet made their first recording for Hyperion Records, of Schubert’s D804 and D810. Subsequent recordings for Hyperion include Brahms’ Piano Quintet with Stephen Hough (Grammy nomination), Brahms’ Quartets Op. 51 and Op. 67, Schumann’s Piano Quintet with Marc-Andre Hamelin, the complete Haydn “Apponyi” Quartets, Op. 71 and 74 and the Schubert Quintet D956 with Ralph Kirshbaum. The three Britten Quartets were released in 2013, followed by the Brahms Viola Quintets with Lawrence Power, viola, and the Shostakovich Piano Quintet with Mr. Hamelin. Upcoming Hyperion recordings include the two Janacek Quartets and Smetana’s “From My Life”, the Debussy Quartet and the Franck Piano Quintet, again with Marc-Andre Hamelin, the Dvorak Op. 105 Quartet and his Viola Quintet Op. 97 with Lawrence Power, viola.
The Quartet has also made sixteen recordings for the Decca label since 1988 of works by Beethoven, Bartók, Borodin, Brahms, Chausson, Dvořák, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and Smetana. The ensemble’s recording of the six Bartók String Quartets received the 1998 Gramophone Award for chamber music and, in 1999, was nominated for a Grammy.
The Takács Quartet was formed in 1975 at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest by Gabor Takács-Nagy, Károly Schranz, Gabor Ormai and András Fejér, while all four were students. It first received international attention in 1977, winning First Prize and the Critics’ Prize at the International String Quartet Competition in Evian, France. The Quartet also won the Gold Medal at the 1978 Portsmouth and Bordeaux Competitions and First Prizes at the Budapest International String Quartet Competition in 1978 and the Bratislava Competition in 1981. The Quartet made its North American debut tour in 1982.
Violinist Edward Dusinberre joined the Quartet in 1993 and violist Roger Tapping in 1995. Violist Geraldine Walther replaced Mr. Tapping in 2005. In 2001 the Takács Quartet was awarded the Order of Merit of the Knight’s Cross of the Republic of Hungary, and in March of 2011 each member of the Quartet was awarded the Order of Merit Commander’s Cross by the President of the Republic of Hungary.