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Johanna Beyer: String Quartet IV

by Koan Quartet

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The Koan Quartet releases their debut digital EP with the premiere commercial recording of Johanna Beyer’s String Quartet IV. An important experimental composer of the 1930’s, Beyer worked closely with Henry Cowell, Percy Grainger and Ruth Crawford, and wrote the first known work scored for electronic instruments by a female composer (Music of the Spheres, 1938). Johanna Beyer died of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 1944 and her work would have been completely forgotten were it not for the work of many composers, performers, and, notably, Frog Peak, a composers’ collective, who made her scores available through research and volunteer score copying.

There is no record of String Quartet IV having been performed within Beyer’s lifetime. It is composed in a very intimate, almost post-romantic style which differs from some of the other works in her collection. Koan Quartet, a subset of Los Angeles’s premiere experimental performance group, Southland Ensemble, brings years of experience presenting thoughtful and meticulously-researched performances of rarely heard works to their interpretation of Beyer’s String Quartet IV.

Koan Quartet releases this digital EP as a contribution to experimental community efforts to give voice to Johanna Beyer’s work; In particular, Lewis Klahr, an experimental film artist who sponsored this recording project, and The Frog Peak/Johanna Beyer Project, a collective effort by Frog Peak composers and friends to issue annotated performance editions of the works of Johanna Beyer.


released July 1, 2020

Koan Quartet: Eric KM Clark and Orin Hildestad (violin), Cassia Streb (viola), Jennifer Bewerse (cello)
Recording Engineer: Doug Grean
Editing: Doug Grean and Jennifer Bewerse
Mixing: Scott Worthington
Mastering: Sean McCann
Publisher: Frog Peak Music


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Koan Quartet Los Angeles, California

The Koan Quartet is based in Los Angeles and performs works by 20th and 21st composers such as Alvin Curran, Carolyn Chen, Ruth Crawford-Seeger, James Tenney and, most recently, Johanna Beyer. The ensemble works to present thoughtful and meticulously-researched performances of rarely heard compositions from the contemporary and experimental repertoire. ... more

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