KAY: String Quartet No.2

TSO House: Don Kay
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      I               Allegrissimo
II             Con Calma
III            Inganno
IV            Finale (Allegro con grazia)

String Quartet No. 2 (1975):

Commissioned by The National Executive of A.S.E.A. to be performed at the ‘Explore the Arts in Tasmania’ Festival, January 1976 by the Rialannah String Quartet.

Performed by Rialannah in the town hall in February 1976 alongside pieces by Ian Cugley and Marian Stankiewicz. All three pieces were commissioned for the event.

The piece is dedicated “to my wife” [Frances]


I think one would not call Don an innovator – this is a biased point of view by the way, and he probably wouldn’t like it – I think that he is at heart a traditionalist but he’s very progressive in his outlook. In fact, progressive isn’t the right word – I’d say open-minded. When I say that he’s a traditionalist I didn’t mean to imply that his music is old-fashioned. He’s one of those composers who don’t mind a good tune. It’s been said that it is still one of the most difficult things to write a good tune and I think Don has written a number of good tunes. In that respect he sees contemporary music as a continuation of traditional music rather than something opposed to it, incorporating new elements as they appear. He incorporates modern devices in a way which do not disturb the character or the continuity of the essence of his music. They don’t come as an unwelcome interruption. Very often the modern devices provide a background. Even the opening is striking in that respect, you wonder “what kind of music is he going to write?” But then comes something dear to all of us: a very beautiful tune. This tune somehow goes throughout the four movements which we feel in the mood of the piece in spite of the – at times – fairly violent contrasts. In the last movement he reiterates the basic theme – there’s a very beautiful viola tune – and the piece ends rather peacefully which I think is characteristic of the composer as a musician and as a man.

a personal impression of Don Kay’s music by Jan Sedivka introducing String Quartet No.2 on occasion of its première in Hobart,

Tasmania. 1976

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