Tokyo String Quartet

In today's cyber-surfing era, the concept of "total isolation" is difficult for some people to grasp. Yet as little as 140 years ago, Japan had virtually no association with the world's trends and developments. During and after World War II, cellist and conductor Hideo Saito was instrumental (pun intended) in infusing the European classical tradition into Japanese culture. Under Saito's stern tutorship (and a suggestion from America's illustrious Julliard Quartet) in the late 1960s, four young musicians were inspired to form Japan's first homegrown string quartet, the Tokyo Quartet. Like that other USA-inspired foursome from Liverpool, the Tokyo String Quartet took the (classical) world by storm, becoming stars and standard-bearers. Also like those Brit moptops, the Tokyo Quartet emphasized a collective spirit in which a composition as a whole was more important than any display of razzle-dazzle virtuosity. Although it has showcased contemporary works, the Tokyo String Quartet is globally celebrated for passionate and glowing interpretations of old masters Beethoven and Schumann... and it's maintained half of its original lineup since 1974, becoming a truly international organization with U.K. cellist Clive Greensmith and Canadian violinist Martin Beaver. Catch a fab four with real class.

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Mark Keresman