The aftershocks of a suicide in a string quartet

Our weekly diarist Anthea Kreston was recruited into the Berlin-based Artemis Quartet after the sudden death of its viola player, Friedemann Weigle.

Fridemann, 53, had been suffering from a depressive condiction.

For two months, the quartet went into mourning. A year later, they are still coming to grips with the loss of a friend and a partner. Here’s Anthea’s moving reflection on that solemn anniversary:

friedemann wiegele

We (Jason and I, and the girls) are a week into our two-week festival in the Dolomites (Northern Italy).  Nestled in this UNESCO World Heritage region, we are finally having some time to decompress and spend some time together as a family, with old friends from Oregon, and to play together (Jason and I with a terrific pianist, Amy Yang) as a trio again.  The Music Academy International is a wide-reaching festival which has everything from Chamber Music to Opera, as well as Suzuki.

We have scarcely had time to breathe since mid-January, when I travelled to Berlin to audition for the Artemis Quartet, only to turn around, liquidate our lives in America, and return together to Berlin to begin our new lives together. We have been enjoying the wonders of Berlin – initially overwhelmed by the ever-present reminders of WWII, we have settled and now have begun to appreciate the richness of this experience – the chance to raise our young daughters in a wonderful culture and to travel the span of Europe and beyond.

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the death of the beloved violist of the Artemis Quartet, Friedemann Weigle.  It was this tragic event which eventually led to our move here, and to the new formation of this quartet. Friedemann is often spoken about during rehearsals and out, and I can not imagine the constant triggers which must affect the members of this quartet, as they rehearse and perform the repertoire once played together with this warm and generous soul, and hear his voice emanating from his instrument, now being played by Gregor, who has taken his spot as violist.

As the new member of a quartet, in any circumstance, the road to full integration requires sensitivity, observation, and patience. There are many reasons that a quartet needs a new member, and many reasons that a spot opens up. A new job, desire for change, wanting to spend more time with family, personal injury or illness, need for stability – all of these and more.  Recently, the venerated Pacifica Quartet announced that their first violinist would be stepping down after 22 years leading the ensemble. But a suicide – this is something without reason – it is something without explanation.

I am not sure what my role is in this – I cannot and would not want to replace this missing person –  but I do need to fully occupy my quarter of this group. It is not my place to speak of it, but to listen when it is referred to, and try to find my path through this impossible maze. I can’t imagine what this quartet is going through, and I don’t know how I fit in, or how to think about it, or what to expect, or how to act. But I do feel an incredible warmth and sadness from this quartet, and they speak about their beloved violist often.  I just listen and admire their strength.

share this

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on google
  • A thoughtful and considerate insight to such a tragedy that can only help to support the other quartet members and to form a new bond with you.
    I hope your summer sojourn brings good times with your family and friends, renewing your energy and continuing participation with quartet in the coming season.

  • How encouraging to read of the Artemis Quartet’s ongoing regrouping after the loss of their violist. Still hoping the Elysian Quartet will go through a similar process after the loss of their violist Vince Sipprell in similar circumstances a few months before the loss of Weigle.

  • >