When a quartet member breaks her wrist on tour

When a quartet member breaks her wrist on tour


norman lebrecht

February 24, 2014

The Kelemen Quartet arrived in Australia to open the Music Viva chamber music season. Then disaster struck.

An exclusive report  by Zoltán Szabó, in Sydney:

kelemen quartet

The much anticipated first subscription concert in the 2014 Sydney season for Musica Viva turned out to be rather different from the  plan. The ensemble was the Kelemen Quartet from Hungary, truly a family affair: a husband-and-wife team of two violinists, her sister as cellist and the godfather of their two children as the viola player. The Quartet received prizes in major international chamber music competitions in Beijing, Melbourne and Budapest.

After two warm-up concerts, the Quartet took Friday off in Sydney and went to Manly beach. Then disaster struck: a collision in the surf left Dóra Kokas, the cellist, with a badly bruised wrist. By Saturday morning, her condition worsened and an X-ray established the wrist was fractured.

With a 2 pm Saturday matinee drawing close, Barnabás Kelemen and Katalin Kokas, the two violinists came up with an emergency plan. They designed (though hardly had time to rehearse) a complete recital, comprising of the 44 duos of Béla Bartók in the first half, a sonata by Jean-Marie Leclair, three formidably demanding Études-Caprices by Henryk Wienawski for two violins and Mozart’s K.423 G major Duo after the intermission. The latter is scored for violin and viola, so Katalin Kokas nonchalantly changed her violin for viola during the second half.

The pair performed the extremely demanding programme with exuberant elegance, an occasional smile on their face as they looked at each other, in perfect consort and with professional composure. Speedy recovery to Dóra and much further success to the Kelemen Quartet!


dora kokas

photo: Katalin and Dora Kokas


  • Elaine Fine says:

    This is why it is always important to travel with contingency music.

  • Kenichi Mizushima says:

    Truly an incredible example of the insane capabilities of true professional musicians.

    My hope is that they don’t get paid peanuts for this feat.

    Lucky reporter!