A Curious Invitation present London Month of the Dead
“I HAVE SEEN INTO THE GRAVE” – String Quartets by Beethoven and Shostakovich
Candlelit concerts in Kensal Green Cemetery with the Brompton Quartet
There will be performances on Friday, Saturday & Sunday the 23rd, 24th and 25th October 2020 at 7:00 pm

Enter the cemetery at sundown and proceed at your peril to this candlelit concert amidst the headstones of Kensal Green.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), String Quartet No 11 in F minor, opus 95.

Written in 1810 for an intimate circle of friends and using experimental techniques Beethoven thought this piece too challenging to ever be performed in public. He gave it the title “serioso” - the only of his quartets he nicknamed - a bold assertion for someone who was not exactly an unserious composer.

The music is tightly coiled, compressed, as if trapped, pervaded with a sense of oppression, perhaps reflecting the fact that Beethoven’s home city Vienna had recently been occupied by Napoleon. Stark, stormy and full of extreme contrasts, Opus 95 acts as a gateway to Beethoven’s final great bleak quartets.

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-75), String Quartet No 8 in C minor, opus 110.

Shostakovich was arguably the most morbid composer who ever lived. To be fair he had some justifications: he lived though Stalin’s terrors, the siege of Leningrad in World War Two, was declared an Enemy of the People by the Soviet regime and suffered from life-long ill health.

Even after his bête noire Stalin died in 1953 misery continued to dog Shostakovich’s life. His wife Nina died soon after Stalin. When he wrote this “autobiographical” quartet over three days in July 1960 in Dresden he had just got divorced from his second wife, had been forced to join the Communist Party and begun to suffer from poliomyelitis. Little wonder then that the five movements of the piece reflect various shades of black. Friends said he had intended to commit suicide on his return to Russia

Tickets £20 including a 20% donation to Kensal Green Cemetery. Please click here to purchase.

PLEASE NOTE - In order to comply with social distancing regulations, these candlelit concerts can only have a very limited audience.

Kensal Green Cemetery