Odriozola, Ricardo


Odriozola, Ricardo

String Quartet No. 1 (first print, score and parts)



Ricardo Odriozola
(b. Bilbao, 28 September 1965)

String Quartet No. 1
(1987 / rev. 1989 & 2015)

Ricardo Odriozola started studying the violin at the age of 9 and graduated from the Bilbao conservatoire in 1982. He then spent a year as exchange student in Arlington (near Boston) finishing his high school and serving as concertmaster of the Greater Boston Youth Symphony orchestra. In 1987 he obtained a bachelor degree in performance from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester (NY). That same year he moved to Bergen (Norway) and began teaching at the Bergen Music Conservatoire (now Grieg Academy), where he is now associate professor of violin and chamber music.
Ricardo Odriozola began writing music at the age of 10. The earliest composition he recognizes (a piano sextet) dates from 1984. Since then he has written more than 40 works (chamber music, solo, songs and orchestral music) and arranged a great deal of music by other composers. Several of his works appear on CD. In January 2015 he released his first CD dedicated exclusively to his music: “Views from my Horse” (www.amethyst-records.com).
Although he has never taken lessons in composition, Ricardo Odriozola has received guidance and inspiration from many prominent composers, particularly (but not only) from Western Norway, and has built his craft by reading hundreds of scores and listening to concerts and recordings. Ricardo Odriozola’s music is, however, primarily informed by his wide experience as a performer. He always strives to produce scores that are performer-friendly and music that can communicate directly with the listener without the aid of intellectual filters.
The composer writes about his First String Quartet: I moved to Bergen (Norway) in August 1987. Shortly after my arrival I started a composers’ group with two friends. We would meet every two weeks and present other composers’ pieces to one another or invite colleagues to demonstrate their instruments to us. We decided that, in the course of that fall, each of us would compose a piece for string quartet. The form was open, but there was one prerequisite: all three compositions were to include a peculiar violin passage I had devised.
We were, if nothing else, very sure of ourselves so, when Witold Lutosławski spent a week in Bergen in early December in order to conduct a programme of his works with the Bergen Philharmonic, we decided to invite him to one of our meetings and show him our sketches. To our delight, the great man agreed. Lutosławski was friendly and charming to a fault. He gave us useful advice and told us some interesting stories.
The group eventually petered out under the pressures of work and family life. It did, however, morph into the KGB (Komponist Gruppe i Bergen), which eventually would morph into Avgarde, another composers’ group that, finally, relinquished its name to a concert series that has, at the time of this writing, been running in Bergen for a decade, with music by local composers at its centre.
The one tangible result of the travails of this erstwhile meeting of the minds was my first string quartet, which I completed just before Christmas 1987.
I wrote the piece at the home of the composer Ketil Hvoslef and his wife, the late painter Inger Bergitte Sæverud. They used to spend the winters in Rome and that year they let me stay for free in their house for five months; a real godsend for a young man who was trying to establish himself in a new country.
It seems fitting that this work, my String Quartet No. 1, be the first of my compositions to be published. It is the earliest of my works that I consider worth playing in its original form. I did revise it slightly in 1989, and it has been further retouched for the present edition but, in essence, it is the piece I wrote in the fall of 1987.
Written in one movement, it has four distinct sections. In character, it is a more controlled and concise continuation of a very grandiose and turbulent piece for cello and piano I had written the previous year, a piece that displayed its sources of inspiration all too evidently. In the string quartet I managed, for the first time, to write something I saw as being mine, even if it was not completely free from influences. Lutosławski had told us, however, that “whom you choose to imitate

[in your youth] says a lot about who you are as a composer”. Incidentally, he also found it funny that I had used the four-repeated-notes motif (see bar 45 and ff.) without previous knowledge of his Symphony No. 3 (which was part of the programme he conducted in Bergen).
String Quartet No. 1 was premiered on November 23rd 1990 at a KGB concert by the composer (me) and friends. It has been performed a number of times since. One of the performances (in 1991, by the Hansa Quartet) prompted a critic to pen my all-time favourite review heading with the words “Musikk som lever”. The article revealed that those words referred specifically to my composition. The words translate as “music that lives” (no doubt the intended meaning) but they can also be read as “music as liver”.
Finally, the passage that my two composer friends and I agreed to use can be found on measures 152-53, complete with sine qua non fingering.

Ricardo Odriozola, Svelvik, 7 September 2015

Score Data

Score No.


Special Edition

Amethyst Edition


Chamber Music


225 x 320 mm


225 x 320 mm


Set Score & Parts


First print



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