A Song for String Quartet

The Musical Art Quartet

The Musical Art Quartet who performed Kay Swift’s string quartet.

Kay Swift wrote “A Song for String Quartet” around 1935 as a commission for the Musical Art Quartet of New York City. It demonstrates Swift’s extreme versatility, as the first female composer of an entire Broadway musical and also as one capable of the complexity of this work.

My arrangement was produced using GarageBand and is a less than perfect rendition. I did not try to capture all of the nuances of tempo, dynamics, and emotions called for throughout the manuscript. My attempt here was to let the world at least hear the basics of what this piece sounds like, and hopefully someday an actual string quartet will give it its proper treatment.

To me, the most striking part of this work is near the middle, measure 57 to be exact, where Swift changes from 4/4 to 2/4 and the melody becomes radically more frenetic. She could have played it safe and created a sweet, pleasing string quartet, but creating something predictable was never Kay Swift’s intention. And that is one reason why her music is so compelling.

Download fake-book style sheet music to “A Song for String Quartet” here: A Song for String Quartet

Here is my rendition of Kay Swift’s “A Song for String Quartet”:

And here is my rendition of Kay Swift’s “A Song for String Quartet” arranged for piano:

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