Unrequited – String Quartet #3


Program Note

When the Lyris Quartet approached me to compose a piece for this project, I thought that it was a remarkable idea— to compose a sort of commentary on the story of Janáček’s Intimate Letters. The first thing — the only thing, really — that popped into my mind was the tragedy of unrequited love (hence the title, Unrequited). The first time I heard Janáček’s Intimate Letters performed live, the emotion of the piece jumped out at me: the wild shifts of tempo, the beautiful and plaintive melodies, the stark dynamic contrasts. I wanted to illustrate my perspective on this strange relationship between Janáček and Kamila Stösslová, by telling the story of a man who goes through different phases of emotion, before finally coming to terms with the fact that his love for her is one-sided— it will never be returned the way he would like. I sought to compose Unrequited so that it moves, like the five stages of grief, through a variety of emotions – from romantic, pure love, through paranoid, obsessive, neurotic possessiveness, arriving finally at despondent acceptance.

About Billy Childs

Billy Childs has emerged as one of the foremost American composers of his era, perhaps the most distinctly American composer since Aaron Copland – for like Copland, he has successfully…