MAINE — “Walking in Beethoven’s Shadow,” a look at composers influenced by Beethoven, opens the 23rd season of the DaPonte String Quartet with performances from Oct. 17 through Oct. 26 in Damariscotta, Portland, Topsham, Boothbay Harbor, and Thomaston. The series features quartets by Brahms (No. 1 in C Minor), Schumann (the A Major, Op. 41, No. 3), and Mendelssohn (the D Major, Op. 44, no. 1).
“You have no idea how it feels to constantly hear the footsteps of a giant like Beethoven behind you,” Johannes Brahms once said. And he wasn’t alone. Beethoven cast a long shadow.
Brahms’s choice of the C Minor key—one of Beethoven’s favorites– for his first quartet may have been an effort to both acknowledge and break free from Beethoven’s paralyzing influence. Robert Schumann’s journals show that he methodically studied Beethoven, especially his enthralling “late quartets,” before writing his Op. 41.
He dedicated it to his friend, Felix Mendelssohn, a composer who in turn had also been both artistically and personally affected by those quartets, which he claimed helped him through a difficult time as a teenager.
The DaPonte, Maine’s premier string quartet, moved to Maine in 1992 on a rural arts grant from Chamber Music America and the National Endowment for the Arts. They perform over 50 concerts a year from Presque Isle to Ogunquit. They were recently voted “Maine’s Best Music Group” for 2014 by readers of Down East Magazine.
Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 17, in Damariscotta at Lincoln Theater, 2 Theater St.; Saturday, Oct. 18, in Portland at the Public Library, 5 Monument Sq.; and Saturday, Oct. 25, at St. Columba’s Church, 32 Emery Way, Boothbay Harbor (near St. Andrews Village). Matinees are at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 19, in Topsham at the Mid-Coast Presbyterian Church, 84 Main St.; and Sunday, Oct. 26, in Thomaston at St John’s Church, 200 Main St.
Tickets are $20, and are available at www.DaPonte.org, at Maine Coast Books in Damariscotta, Longfellow Books in Portland and Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick, or at 207-529-4555.