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Mackey, Steven: Physical Property (1992) 16'
for electric guitar and string quartet


This work requires additional technological components and/or amplification.

Abbreviations (PDF)


This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

World Premiere

Schleswig-Holstein Festival
Kronos Quartet with Steve Mackey (elec gtr)

Composer's Notes

Physical Property is the third part of a trilogy for electric guitar and string quartet entitled Fables with Three Tasks. The mystery, microtones, and complicated narrative of the first two parts (“On the Verge” and “Troubadour Songs”) give way to a libido-driven romp in Physical Property. This music is about the energy of live performance.

Between the ages of eighteen and twenty, I was a professional freestyle skiier. My vision of perfection was to careen down the mountain, head over heels, arms and legs flailing, on-lookers gasping, and somehow end up at the bottom with a smile on my face and not a flake on me. This esthetic comes out more in Physical Property than in any other work of mine. The piece demands that an unlikely combo, the quintessential classical music chamber ensemble and the symbol of adolescent rebellion, work together with consummate discipline in the service of joyous freedom.

— Steven Mackey

Reproduction Rights:
This program note may be reproduced free of charge in concert programs with a credit to the composer.

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