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I am. Louis Louis Louis.
Why were four highly trained classical musicians who simply don't want to play the music written before our century performing music. And I feel like song is more than the last few years we've played in nightclubs and jazz festivals and concert halls and we're discovering musical territory that that I think makes us unique in the world of music. I am
I am. Oh yeah. Playing in a quartet it's really the interaction of the four different people getting together and working out something and coming up with that one collective idea and I think that's the core of a quartet. We just were working with and composition. We're trying to accomplish a lot of things we were trying to wade into trying to play together. We're trying to play the dynamics of the road but also we're really trying to create a new
you know I was really on to why we didn't start there together do you think it's like down there are just a touch. What do you guys think. Yeah the second bar is speeding up right. Oh sometimes I feel like I have to wait. Well I think you're playing the rhythm differently in the second bar than I do. I don't you know what.
I see the four of us as a very very hard workers. You know I think people don't realize that we rehearse many many hours for practicing at home individually. We're very dedicated in what we're doing and I think the reason that we're so dedicated is AP is that we enjoy it. Here is where that little 16 you know that one. David's playing it later. And I don't I don't know who's right I wonder if you're like the 16. I mean rather than the 60. DAVIS No.
Because I notice when you being in the quartet is like a study in life in that you have to interact with these people and do it in a positive way because you're creating something you're trying to to get a goal and you have to do it so that you have good results of course but you also have to get along with everybody. And it's very very difficult being in a quartet it's an odd existence. But I would have been in the way you know everyone is my best friend here 40 and then the first two beats the four new ones I hit every day we work together we think about our sound and we don't think of producing one specific sound all the time we think of a whole vocabulary of sounds that we can draw upon in any time but I do think that everybody's influenced everybody else's sound. I mean when I first came into the quartet You know I never played loud enough somebody was saying play louder play louder. I mean so that was a basic
technique or something I mean there's a basic core sound I think that's there. You know I have to rehear my bow once a month you know. EAT EAT YOU'RE WEAK. Well in 1973 I had this intense desire to play music every day and the music I'd always played as a kid was quartet music. I think one summer night I had heard a performance of black angels by George crumb and that I think you're in that piece at that particular point prompted me to want to form Kronos in a month or so later. Krause was performing and rehearsing every day and so was
I think it was really the catalyst of being moved by George Crumb's piece frankly that got me going and since then the group has taken all kinds of turns in many different directions that in 1983 I couldn't even have dreamt of my thing.
The four of us have evolved and in this age we thought a lot about it we don't want to we don't want to appear like a traditional group. And so why not choose clothes why not choose hairstyles are chosen the contemporary people the turn of the variance can come further fighting relates to girl something exaggerated with us you know that yeah we want to look good on stage but we also look different. That's why we work with designer Sandra was off in stretches as a nexus look for something better and I think something maybe a little bit farther out
push our audience and their expectation of what they see in a string quartet on stage. I think we've done done critic's a dick service because many of them don't know whole lot about music and so they don't know anything about music they can talk about clothes and they probably don't know whole lot about clothes either but at least it gives them an opening sentence. Do you
eat. Well I've thought for a long time that the artist's position in society is probably to reflect the inner life. And for me that probably means I think being responsive to as many of the different sounds that we have in our total environment. It's hard to step outside and see yourself but I think that probably I'm the initiator of most of the trouble we get into. There it is the father of promise I would say you know because he's he's had the group longer than the three of us although you know he says that the group really never started until the four of us began. But he's I think a survivor and that why and why do I have a quartet just time. There's always a great energy from him. And anything you know.
I'm coming across boundaries she had that I think are insurmountable for our particular musical form. For me I see the past and the tradition of the string quartet as the springboard to the future. And for Jonas She's from the start and has a house there. John told Mike about another time I think I'm a fairly easy going person. However I have be a real bitch
sometimes our life can be so stressful. Artists work. What's the difference in some respects. But she was also a fantastic cellist. She really plays for her soul. I was 11 years old when someone put the cello into my hands and said Here try this and it took it was a good experience and something I enjoyed and became a lifelong obsession.
I feel like we have such a close relationship. That's why I can't understand how somebody can play in a quartet with someone and not have that same relationship that the things that we have because to me it's so so close and so human you know I mean there are some emotions that you go through having that type of relationship that makes life worth living really I mean because if you don't have that what's the point. That ring has a real there's a sound and that's what started to play the violin when I was four years old and I've always been involved in contemporary music even when I was nine years old I remember playing to West's very obscure 20th century composers.
You know I would never be satisfied playing. Surely you can say I enjoyed being the first interpreter of the piece. John is amazing because I don't think I've ever met anyone who is so satisfied with their life. But he's like a Little Rock of Gibraltar. John can be very very stubborn but I guess that's part of it to you. He knows what he thinks and I'll let you know that. Musically I think everybody has a role in the quartet changes because of the music that we play. But I think our sounds are heard they're each unique and we we like that. You know I want to sound like myself at times and I think that's very important to have my own stamp my own character.
Why. I think I was always drawn to the deeper sounds of the strings. I think the cello the most one summer I was offered a fuel a scholarship to go to music camp. By the end of that summer I had really grown to love the below you are which I don't think has probably the best feeling ever heard. It's one of the richest deepest warmest sounds that I think you'll ever hear coming out of your home. Hank really enjoys trying things you know. I remember we were in the middle of Budapest Hank noticed there was a bowling alley and so we all decided to go bowling. We found out these incredible things about him. It is a very fine bowler. He loves cars. We are used to enhance
being able to interpret with three other people is a great artistic achievement and that gives me a lot of fulfillment that Kronos is a passive group of instrumentalists that are available to be shaped by this or that composer. I don't think that's what we're doing at all. We've decided to play the music we play and you know we take full responsibility for the duration. Sometimes we're trying to sound like a drum and other times we're trying to sound like on a trumpet or an oboe or the cymbal or a grasshopper or in the case of Kevin Rowlands piece we're trying to sound like elephants hyenas baboons in the way they walk the rhythm that they walk in.
You're you're you're you're you're for me the idea of very concrete images is something that I think we all make use of and marshals and certainly in performances whether it's a fragrance or a or a performer or something like that it's certainly feelings.
This man serves who he betta you know let's keep this we like to through this last year our working repertoire was so 75 this year I'm fraid it's margarine. I decided not to count this year. I've lost count of how many we've actually played but it's somewhere around 4 500 I think. Our scores come from composers publishers radio stations. They come from wherever people are writing. Reason is for the largest library of quartet music what I've heard of and it's the music of our time and it comes from all over the world. In
the east it's hard to say what amusing thing it might be a memory that somebody carries with him from the concert. I think ideally our task is to create a memorable musical experience as such. When the soon 3 Theatre Company asked us to do and original work with them first of all we thought it would just be plain fun and we knew it would be different. So we took the chance and my primary interest was to tried to incorporate the Kronos Quartet into the real weave of the composition.
So as you'll say there's a sense that they're always present either on film film within family or peer. They have here a sculpture at a certain point the instruments appear in an archaeological dig. So we've developed a method of actually using them structurally as characters in Magic Magic Eyes a play about the present nuclear danger set in the future.
Probably in some ways what were the last people to know what really happens on some of these large scale cooperation is because we're involved and in the center part of that. And so with was soon three. I don't feel that I've experienced the total effect. But that's not unusual and it's the person that really can experience the whole thing of course is that is the audience.
It was clear right away that the music of Monk was a quartet music. It didn't take us long at all to feel the the sound and the the sense of the music belonged in our in our repertoire. We could've recorded the monk and Evans albums without going to use foreign produced records of Monk and Evans in the 50s. He knew both of them personally very well and in the absence of the composers he was the most first hand information. What did you think of that. Yeah yeah yeah. You know I think it's getting awfully close. But you definitely know how to do it. At least one more time so let's come listen to it.
I think you have a tendency to be a little bit so too self-conscious about trying to sling forget that it's a jazz piece. In that sense just let it be what it needs to be. Round Midnight is beautiful but not pretty. And that's the whole paradox of Mark which of the few of you express that right then when you were young you're really getting the guts of that zone. Or I suppose I should say the composition. My vision is not like any other springboard that they've ever made and since the audience mug is not like any other jazz artist or composer that they ever made there's an other element of much there. Yes there are there were purists and there are purists out there that think that the funniest monk and the sound of
of Cronos perhaps don't belong together. I think there was a lot more trouble with the purists from my world than the purists from David's and the the jazz purists were I think on the whole far more easily offended by this marriage than anybody else. I mean there are certain particular standards in jazz particular dumb standards like strings don't swing and things like that. I will admit that we have created some converts as we've gone along.
It's weird to me. I mean need to take a close look at some point looks like there may have been some warm damage to one point but you may want to keep traveling as hard on my checklist is closed. But after all my instrument is 200 years older than I am I would need to look at it OK. Brownie in life. So what was that there was a problem with the concert for Florida. Kansas City we're on the road two hundred days last year. That's a long time to build a road in the way for your family. It's a it's a hard adjustment. I mean I don't know what day to go where you know we should really choose programs and wait. Oh right. That's Jack Question for you because I like having to wait six hours. Right right right so the money because we're taking the grades you know that seems like it might be
good and we have all that stuff that we're doing. And Lincoln. Last week before a hundred terror the hundred and twenty first year. Seems like every year we don't tell anyone that. I wouldn't wish turing on anybody unless they really love music and need to do it. The noise and confusion of our culture is is disorienting and you really find that out when you're away from home on the way to the next concert. Thing being uncensored for long stretches of time is difficult but the center that you find as a performer is the center that keeps that possible.
But the old the old. The what.
The three performances at the next wave festival were the culmination of of many years of thought in terms of what went into making those it took years to get that music together. I mean you know you know we have one should as another and you know we haven't played with Ron Carter since our Monk album and since we were playing with him that night this was our only chance. Classical player there's a broad rule rely on someone
giving them the meter and then to us and second the parts are transcriptions of what Mark has played and they pled with a jest. I feel and Mark has written his plates for them on piano. What strength Cortef part. Shit sound like the slang for They're ahead of the game and if lead and enter there quite well I'm depressed with the ever rising with a group thing.
After we've worked with Philip Glass on projects like me she ma quartet that's always a great joy to see I'm in New York and our last visit we found an early quartet of his in a box. Since I'd never heard it he asked us to come around and play it for him right. Like you I think that we had three members and I wrote this piece twenty one years ago so let's I think we should think of as an archeological write experience. So he's looking for a this is the picture. I mean I know but I know probably you probably know more about it than I do. You can almost out with anyone. I don't think it matters. It's a strange strange business
nice. Oh.
You are. That must be what the real safe of it as it's what I sounds very nice on your show I think of at this place I've been in them and then 1066 I think I live in a lot of trouble. Some people thought was immoral. Yeah that's a really interesting people get very wound wound up with music and I don't know if I could live in the chorus is an American court that we grew up in the same musical world we grew up with. Maybe in slightly different times but are the kind of music that's available to us has been the same for rock n roll too. The concert music too just to folk music it's all part of her. I want to misuse the word gift that the performer brings to the music and it's a discovery. It's the emotional and the spiritual part of it. The other doesn't put music it's the space between the notes.
That's what they bring to it. You're
rude. You're you're.
Composers have a way of being themselves in their music. For me John Cage is the most perfect example of his music. That is his personality is his music. And so. To play his music is to play him. I don't distinguish between music and you know I'm interested in our style. I haven't heard any yet that I don't enjoy. Some people have often put their fingers in their hearing that I leave my ears open to learn to have the experience say it's something louder than usual air.
A. Iraq I think the sound of strings is actually a very special taste. Myself had no interest in string music. He said he couldn't imagine what had led people to play on Caprica to scrape both sides. But I've grown to love this change of heart and now even the telephone. I haven't meant to make things strange. I have wanted to hear things that I haven't heard before and I think of the most practical piece I ever wrote and I think is the 433 the silent piece which has no sound. It's it's simply a way of catching this out there and already
I've actually wrote it for any number before and it was first played by David Tudor as a pianist but it has been played in other places I think is an orchestral in which the people simply make no sight during three periods of silence its peace with three. That's that's also music. OK.
Also be nice if it can help what I do is mix it up a bunch of colors. OK John if you can go over a little bit a little bit more. Right. But get a little bit more. Now stand up to where you were but just move out of the shadows falling down exactly the middle of your face. Yeah. If you just stand up naturally there you regret her.
The music belongs to people. You know it's like a great natural resource that we have and nobody owns it. And you can pay performers and you can pay composers. Audiences can buy tickets and in the end nobody owns the music. And that's a great strength. Just to be next to it every day for me is a great great joy. I can't imagine life any other way.
Mm hmm.
I am and I am I am. And if you think you are you you think you are you are you. Yeah.
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Kronos: Music of Our Time
Producing Organization
KQED-TV (Television station : San Francisco, Calif.)
Contributing Organization
KQED (San Francisco, California)
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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Program Description
"Four San Francisco-based musicians are dramatically challenging the definition of string quartet by dedicating themselves to the works of modern masters such as Cage, Glass, Monk, and even Jimi Hendrix. Traditional is not a word that usually comes to mind in a discussion of the Kronos Quartet. The dress like punk rock stars, and they play an electric repertoire comprised solely of music of this century. The Kronos Quartet is shaking up classical music the same way the Beatles shook up pop! "But the Kronos Quartet is firmly steeped in centuries of musical tradition, a fact made clear in KQED's documentary, 'Kronos: Music of our Time.' The opening shots of stringed instruments shown during the credits could set a scene in 1987 or 1787. The intense concentration the quartet shows during rehearsal, the discussions over minute variations in tempo and dynamics, the passion for perfection and joy in performance have always been part of musicians' lives. "This program is wall-to-wall music -- in performing at the next wave Festival in Brooklyn, on stage with San Francisco's avant-garde Theatre Artaud and recording with producer Orin Keepnews -- peppered by interviews with their many collaborators --composers and musicians on the cutting edge of 20th century classical music. "It is a decidedly unconventional documentary about an equally unconventional subject 'exploring this new music is like seeing a different culture for the first time' accepting the challenge of this exploration."--1987 Peabody Awards entry form. This documentary follows the famous modern quartet Kronos: David Harrington on violin, John Sherba on violin, Hank Dutt on viola, and Joan Jeanrenaud on cello. The group discusses how they formed, how they have been received by the music community, and what life is like for a musical performer. Interviews with musicians and artists they have collaborated with are also shown. These interviews include Alan Finneran, Orrin Keepnews, Ron Carter, Philip Glass, and John Cage.
Doc.- S.F. Musicians challenge the definition of a string quartet- Works by Monk, Cage, Evans, Jimi Hendrix
Broadcast Date
Asset type
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Moving Image
Producer: Rob Fruchtman; Excutive Producer: Kim Thomas; Unit Manger: Richard Yelen
Producing Organization: KQED-TV (Television station : San Francisco, Calif.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: cpb-aacip-f00920b56c8 (Filename)
Format: 1 inch videotape
Generation: Master
Duration: 1:00:00
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
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Duration: 0:58:00
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Duration: 1:00:00
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Chicago: “Kronos: Music of Our Time,” 1987-11-20, KQED, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 27, 2022,
MLA: “Kronos: Music of Our Time.” 1987-11-20. KQED, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 27, 2022. <>.
APA: Kronos: Music of Our Time. Boston, MA: KQED, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from