John De Simone composed Intimacy for string quartet for the 2009 McEwen Commission. The Edinburgh Quartet premiered this work along with Robert Crawford’s String Quartet No. 2 (the McEwen commission from 1957) and Kenneth Dempster’s String Quartet No. 4 “The Cold Dancer” in the Concert Hall at the University of Glasgow on Monday 20 April 2009.


Decorative design element

Listen to… the Intimacy premiere

Programme note

I am very honoured to be the recipient of the McEwen bequest and to write this piece for the Edinburgh Quartet. The University of Glasgow is a special place for me; Many of my relatives have studied here and my grandfather Dr John MacCormick was Lord Rector from 1950-53. In my childhood home I have fond memories of an engraving of the impressive University tower hanging in our living room, next to a picture of my grandad in his University regalia. So to be asked by the Court of the University to write a piece and to have it performed here in this site means a great deal to me.

The most appealing (and daunting) aspect of writing for a String Quartet, is the opportunity to have a work performed by a group of players who have been working together closely over several years, with an ensemble that is so finely balanced it requires a special intimacy of sound and mind.

This is what I have chosen to explore in this piece. The work explores the relationships between the instruments, the strength and fragility of the quartet, with a piece that evolves through several permutations of solos, duets, tuttis, rhythmic unisions and instabilities. It is also imbued with a sense of wistful nostalgia that I associate with the University and the memories it invokes of my childhood home.

John De Simone, 2009