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solo cello and string quintet

Abbreviations (PDF)


Boosey & Hawkes

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


World Premiere
Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, Katonah
Karen Ouzounian, cello / The Knights
Composer's Notes

Shorthand takes its title from Leo Tolstoy’s comment that “Music is the shorthand of emotion. Emotions, which let themselves be described in words with such difficulty, are directly conveyed to man in music, and in that is its power and significance.”

The piece references two themes from Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata for violin and piano (which inspired Tolstoy’s novella The Kreutzer Sonata): the opening theme, as well as a second theme that Janácek also incorporated in his own String Quartet No. 1, "Kreutzer Sonata” (also inspired by Tolstoy’s novella). That second Beethoven theme inspires the opening material for Shorthand.

Shorthand exists in two forms – for solo cello and string quintet, and for solo cello and string orchestra and these are dedicated to my husband, Jody Elff.

Press Quotes

"Shorthand is an elegiac piece for much of its length, and packs a real emotional punch" —BBC Music Magazine

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