Billy Childs

Billy Childs (born 1957)

Nationality: American
Born: March 8, 1957, Los Angeles (age 66)

String Quartet No. 3, Unrequited

(for 2 violins, viola and cello)
Duration: 12 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 2015 (age 57-58)
1 recording, 1 videos
Lyris Quartet
From Billy Childs, 2015

When the Lyris Quartet approached me in 2015 to compose a sort of commentary on the story of Intimate Letters: String Quartet No. 2, by Leos Janáček, I thought that it was a remarkable idea. The first thing — the only thing, really — that popped into my mind was the tragedy of unrequited love (hence the name, Unrequited). When I first heard Janáček’s Intimate Letters performed live, the emotion of the piece jumped out at me: the wild shifts of tempo, the beautiful and plaintive melodies, the stark dynamic contrasts. I wanted to illustrate my perspective on this strange relationship between Janáček and Kamila Stösslová, by telling the story of a man who goes through different phases of emotion, before finally coming to terms with the fact that his love for her is one-sided — it will never be returned the way he would like. I sought to compose Unrequited so that it moves, like the five stages of grief, through a variety of emotions — from romantic, pure love, through paranoid, obsessive, neurotic possessiveness, arriving finally at despondent acceptance.

This piece was commissioned by Madelyn, Jerald and Lee Jackrel and is dedicated to and premiered by the Lyris Quartet.

© Billy Childs, 2015. Used by permission. All rights reserved.