This quartet needs my husband as much as it needs me

This quartet needs my husband as much as it needs me


norman lebrecht

February 19, 2016

The latest instalment of Anthea Kreston’s diary on joining the Artemis Quartet yields further surprises –  a degree in women’s studies, a decision to step off the fast track, and a baby on the way. Life’s rich tapestry in a string quartet. Enjoy.

anthea kreston

When Slipped Disc asked me to write a weekly diary, my invitation to join the Artemis Quartet was just days old.  I believe that Norman, (who I have not had the opportunity to meet yet) somehow enjoyed my pluck and thought I was a decent writer. Looking back to that day 6 weeks ago, I wonder what I was thinking to accept putting another thing on my already overflowing plate. But – it has been  fun to write – and to ruminate during the week about what the next topic could possibly be. And the comments – these alone have been enough to entertain me for years!

I am the youngest of three girls, all musicians, and the daughter of an engineer and split piano/English major.  Both of my sisters are musicians, as is my husband.  I started playing violin at the age of 2.5, and although I have always been reasonably obsessed with music, I have also had, and continue to have, many different interests and passions.

After my years at Curtis, I earned a Women’s Studies degree – and it seems as if (I easily could be wrong here) this is not a well-known college degree option in Europe. What it taught me, more than anything, is that every story has an equally compelling and complex story on its flip side. In Women’s Studies, it is as if you look at every subject you have studied before, but you investigate what the women were doing during that point in history – or what were they painting, or inventing – or if they were not doing these things – why not?  What were they doing – how and why and what obstacles did they encounter? Who were the first in their fields to break through?

For example – is anyone else as excited as I am about the recent breakthrough in the field of conducting for women?  What an amazing thing – long overdue!  A final frontier.

In many ways, this has been the influence of this diary. To look not at the finished performance – the review or the concert or the recording – but the journey, and most importantly – all of the other elements which make this kind of career possible. When I applied for this position, people advised me to not mention or talk about my children or my conscious choice to step off the music fast-track 6 years ago and have a family and raise them in a small liberal town in rural Oregon.  However, I don’t see these things as a sign of weakness or inability for a person to have an intense job. I was open about my personal choices, and in fact, it was the quartet’s questions about Jason and my children which made me even more eager to be a part of this new extended family. They had long conversations with me about my family – and said – “without a happy home life, the quartet cannot be happy”.  They reached out to Jason – and called him the keystone of the whole operation. What is the saying – “behind every great man is a great woman”?  It so happens that in my case, the opposite is true.


So. Perhaps some weeks I will speak about everything except what I am doing with the quartet. In the true vein of a behind-the-scene diary. Is this so wrong?  Also – a request came in for a very “musician-specific” post. I would also like to have a technical rehearsal-preparation entry – fingerings included!

On the plate this weekend – two days off, and my major concern is split between extreme personal practice (of which I need a lot – this Thursday’s rehearsal revealed one piece in which my preparation was woefully inadequate – I don’t want to be in that position ever again), and extreme family time, which has also been terribly neglected. I have rented a car and we will begin our search for the right neighborhood in Berlin to base ourselves permanently. The statement by the Artemis is absolutely true – the happiness of all members of my family is key to the happiness of all of our newly extended family.

To end – we are all holding our breaths for the imminent arrival of Ecki’s second child – it was due Friday!  What a time of change and rebirth for all of us.

(c) Anthea Kreston/Slipped Disc




  • Milka says:

    Why this banality? If this dullness reflects the quartette playing then one
    can easily forego hearing the Artemis quartette.Boring is too kind a thought .

    • Peggy says:

      Your snark is totally unjustified. For those of us who are not professional musicians, it is an unmitigated pleasure to read these insights.

    • MacroV says:

      The internet is like the TV; if you don’t like it, TURN IT OFF. They can’t all be gems, but I’ve enjoyed some of these posts.

    • Alla Aranovskaya, First violinist of the Grammy nominated St. Petersburg Quartet. says:

      I’m absolutely agree with you. Such cheap ad. There are millions of musicians who can tell much more interesting stories about their life. Read for example the book by Arnold Steinhardt’s ( Legendary Guarnery Quartet) ” Indivisible by four”.

      It’s clear for me that she trying to makes herlelf popular.
      Because without tjiis article nobody will know who is Anthea Kreston.

      • Bruce says:

        Before she started writing for Slipped Disc (at Mr. Lebrecht’s invitation), I had no idea who Anthea Kreston was. I enjoy reading her posts though.

        Before reading your comments on Slipped Disc, I had no idea who you were either. Your comments are also fun to read 🙂

      • Margaret says:

        Alla – why so upset? You seem angry and sad about something. I am nervous about your blood pressure. Please have some calming tea. Anthea Kreston will not ruin your career. She seems nice and she doesn’t hate you. Maybe find something else to read that is more your style? Something super exciting and action-packed? Spy novel or something? Or watch that James Bond movie “The Living Daylights” where they use a cello case as a sled to escape the bad guys?

        • Alla Aranovskaya, First violinist of the Grammy nominated St. Petersburg String Quartet says:

          Don’t worry. My blood pressure is 90 over 60.
          Thank you for your anxiety.

        • Bruce says:

          Margaret – no need to worry. Alla is doing something that makes her happy.

      • Sallie says:

        I am not a musician. For me, these glimpses into Anthea’s life make the music more approachable and alive. Alla’s comments also offer some insight into the world of professional classical musicianship. Fascinating! (Although Alla presents herself in such an unflattering light that it occurs to me that she might have been hacked.) I hope Anthea will keep writing.

    • Alla Aranovskaya, First violinist of the Grammy Nominated St.Petersburg Quartet says:

      Incredible banal and boring even for the people who watching soap operas instead of going to the concerts.

  • RW2013 says:

    How many weeks in one of the world’s musical capitals, and, still haven’t been to the Philharmonie, the Konzerthaus, the opera, any chamber music?
    Or is it not worth writing about?

    • Bruce says:

      Well, she’s been busy. You can look at earlier posts to read about her 7-hour rehearsal days in addition to her back surgery and her two small children… in addition to moving her household from the US to Germany.

    • james says:

      Hmm which is more newsworthy, joining one of the world’s great string quartets or being one of thousands of people who went to a concert?

    • Scott Fields says:

      Where, in contrast, R2D2 (writing here as RW2013), heard the Madison Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra, a Julian Bream house concert, a rebroadcast of Itzhak Perlman’s visit to Sesame Street, and the reformed Dead Kennedys, all between repairing a heavily damaged C-3PO and fixing the Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive just in time to escape Imperial Forces. We can all learn from its time-management genus.

    • Margaret says:

      RW – I am sure that Anthea Kreston would be happy to give you tickets to a concert – she is probably reading your comments and thinks you are a charming and gregarious robot. Why don’t you write to her and ask her for a set of tickets for you and Chewy? Sounds like you could get out a bit more instead of reading things that you don’t like, apparently against your will. Or maybe you are trapped in the large trash compactor and you have nothing to do but stare at your phone.
      Or is this what you are doing, RW2013? I found this on YouTube when I typed in your name!

      • RW2013 says:

        Finally outed!
        Robbie would happily overlook this cheesy human interest, reach out to Jason PR campaign, and go to an Artemis concert if their random programming was more interesting.
        No doubt, every quartet that they play is worth hearing, but Robbie is too old not to have heard it all before (except Demetz), and yearns for some underrepresented repertoire,
        Korngold, Braunfels, Britten…
        Sorry I missed this one- J.S./A. Bach/Piazzolla Partita für Trio (who’s J.S., who’s A. Bach?).

  • Paula Muldooon says:

    Beautiful post. Thank you for your thoughts!

  • Andrew Moravcsik says:

    It is great that an accomplished professional is telling the truth about this issue. I am someone who recently wrote in the ATLANTIC about my experience as a “lead Dad”–fathers who are the primary caregivers–and with a wife, Anne-Marie Slaughter, who has written even more prominently about it. Most really world-class professionals in any field have a “lead parent” at home, but mostly (96% of the time, the statistics tell us) it is the woman at home. Often the 4% of women in this situation keep quite about their “lead Dads” at home, because we do not have a social and cultural categories to speak about it. If we want women AND men to have more choices, and string quartets like Artemis to be as great as they can be, people have to be more open on this issue. I applaud Norman for making the space. Those who think it’s banal have obviously never struggled with these issues.

    • Milka says:

      Millions of parents deal with far more important issues than this fabricated nonsense. Whatever meaning quartettes have for the few their existence means very little to
      the world at large, much less who is the “lead Dad ” of a quartette player .
      From time immemorial there has been lead moms and lead dads , people did what they
      had to do and got on with it except now when all laundry is washed in public to show
      what a tough time is this life ….surprised Mr. Lebrecht encourages this nonsense.

      • Alla Aranovskaya, First violinist of the Grammy Nominated St.Petersburg Quartet. says:

        Totally agree with you MILKA.
        There is so much that musicians can say about the music that they play and educate people who loves music but have not enough knowledge about even Mozart music. They are looking for someone who spend whole life with music and can tell them something that will help to feel music deeper.
        Instead of that we are reading the story of “professionals” full of banality.

  • Milka says:

    What ? no litany of bowel movements !!!

  • Bruce says:

    It’s fun to see how some of those who think this kind of thing is unworthy of reading, can’t seem to stay away from it. :-p