Since its inception in 1992, the Brentano String Quartet has appeared throughout the world to popular and critical acclaim. Within a few years of its formation, the quartet garnered the first Cleveland Quartet Award and the Naumburg Chamber Music Award; and in 1996 the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center invited them to be the inaugural members of Chamber Music Society Two. Succeeding the Tokyo Quartet in 2013, the quartet is now the quartet-in-residence at Yale University, and serves as the collaborative ensemble for the Van Cliburn Competition.
In addition to performing the standard quartet repertoire, the Brentano Quartet has a strong interest in both very old and very new music. It has performed many musical works pre-dating the string quartet as a medium, among them Madrigals of Gesualdo, Fantasias of Purcell, and secular vocal works of Josquin. The quartet has also worked closely with composers Elliott Carter, Charles Wuorinen, Chou Wen-chung, Steven Mackey, Bruce Adolphe, and György Kurtág. The Quartet has also been privileged to collaborate with such artists as sopranos Jessye Norman, Dawn Upshaw, and Joyce DiDonato, and pianists Richard Goode, Jonathan Biss, and Mitsuko Uchida.
The Brentano Quartet is known for especially imaginative projects combining old and new music. Among the Quartet’s latest collaborations with contemporary composers is a new work by Steven Mackey, “One Red Rose,” commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
In 2013 the second of three recordings featuring the late Beethoven Quartets was released on Aeon. They have recorded the Opus 71 quartets of Haydn, and have also recorded a Mozart disc for Aeon Records with violist Hsin-Yun Huang. The quartet has also released a disc of the music of Steven Mackey on Albany Records, among others.
In 1998, cellist Nina Lee joined the quartet, succeeding founding member Michael Kannen. The following season the quartet became the first quartet-in-residence at Princeton University. The Quartet is named for Antonie Brentano, whom many scholars consider to be Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” the intended recipient of his famous love confession.