• String Trio I4:37
  • String Trio II6:49
  • String Trio III8:00

frank stemper


  I. Dramatic, Shimmering
 II. Quiet, Hazy, Not Too Fast

III. Raw, Relentless, fast 
for violin, viola and ‘cello [16 mins.]


String Trio (2008) was written for the American String Trio for a live broadcast premiere in Budapest on the Bartók 3 network of Hungarian National Radio. Its three movements have a traditional structure with an unintentional stylistic relationship to Bartók’s landmark string quartets, those six magnificent works that inspired so many composers by re-writing not only string quartet music but music in general.  I am certainly one of those composers and was undoubtedly further inspired by the future locale of the premiere - Bartok Country.

The “dramatic and shimmering” trills of the opening movement are secretly discussed and pondered in the middle of the piece, followed by decisive, assertive action (“raw, relentless, fast”) exploited in the aggressive concluding movement. 

I think most artists will tell you that inspiration is mostly just a lot of hard and continuous work:

Try.  Just try.  Then try again.  And again.  If that doesn't work, change your socks and try some more, or start over. Everyvery day, up and at it.  It's there.  It's there, I know it is.  I've got to find it.  Yesterday, today, tomorrow, try, try, try.  Keep trying.  Every day to work on it.  And when not working on it, when something else is happening, thinking about it, about a detail, about a major event, even as everyone else in the room is participating in the group function.  Falling to sleep thinking about it -- can't wait until morning to get back at it.  Trying every day, relentlessly searching and trying and discarding and trying again and getting mad and getting depressed and and thinking about giving up and finding a new line of work.  Yet back at it, stubborn, trying, seeing it through, never giving up, just trying, editing, trying, editing, purging, one second at a time — and the entire time frozen, your life on hold until you finally feel right about a double bar.

It's work.  (Well, not like coal mining.  It's play actually.  If it isn't, THEN it's work.)

But there is one other important part to it.  This is that moment when a spark hits, that ends up defining the work, be it a painting, a poem, etc. or a piece of music.  My spark has hit 75 times — or maybe more, I cannot remember  exactly how many of these things I've put together.  Without the spark there is no piece of music. 



Premiered 21 May 2008 by The American String Trio in Budapest, Hungary, in a live Broadcast on the Bartok III Network - Hungarian National Radio, Budapest HUNGARY.

There are composers who innovate the art form and others just write within the esthetic that others have created - often producing a summary or culmination.  Usually the music of the experimental composers