Edward Dusinberre, "Distant Melodies: Music in Search of Home" (U Chicago Press, 2022)


The first violinist of the Takács Quartet weaves scholarship on Edward Elgar, Antonin Dvořák, Bela Bartók and Benjamin Britten with a deeply personal evocation of belonging, national identity and the private life of a string quartet.

Edward Dusinberre’s Distant Melodies: Music in Search of Home (Faber, The University of Chicago Press 2022) alternates traditional musicology with personal reminiscence, situating details of Dusinberre’s English upbringing and current life in Colorado, alongside Dvořák’s tenure as director of the National Conservatory of Music of America and Bartók’s bleak final years of illness and longing as a Hungarian refugee. He gives behind-the-scenes access to quartet life, an esoteric and often guarded profession. Dusinberre explains the rehearsal process, reveals the complexity of auditioning new members and evokes the struggles performing musicians faced during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The evolution of sound and style is an important topic for a quartet formed almost 50 years ago in 1970’s Budapest. Now based in Boulder, Colorado, with cellist András Fejér the only remaining founding member, Dusinberre considers the subject of music and nationalism as it relates to the shifting identity of the Takács and their repertoire. This exploration of change and exchange speaks to our fluctuating relationships with self-identity and difficulties in defining home.

Joseph Edwards is a writer and violinist based in London. His current research looks at the importance of sound in chronic illness experience. Contact him via email at joseph8edwards@gmail.com or through Twitter @joseph8edwards.

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Joseph Edwards

Writer, violinist and recent MA graduate from SOAS, University of London. Contact him via email at joseph8edwards@gmail.com, through Twitter @joseph8edwards, or on Linkedin at www.linkedin.com/in/joseph8edwards.
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