String Quartet #1 (Trojan)

The String Quartet #1 (Trojan) by James Domine was composed during the summer months of 1982, underwent considerable revision in the fall and winter of that year under the supervision of a faculty committee at USC chaired by professor Ellis Kohs and was first performed at the recital in partial fulfillment for the Masters’ Degree at the Arnold Schoenberg Institute at the University of Southern California in May of 1983. This quartet is James Domine’s thesis for the Masters’ Degree in Musical Composition from USC, for this reason it is sub-titled the Trojan Quartet. There is no programmatic, historical or mythological connection to the piece with the Trojan War. The obvious link between USC and the Trojans Football team is the whole reason for and explanation of the sub-title.

As an academic thesis in partial fulfilment for the requirements for the Master’s Degree in the discipline of musical composition, the String Quartet #1 was approved by a faculty committee consisting of Ellis Kohs, (with whom Domine was studying at the time of the Quartet’s composition), Robert Linn (then department chairman), Leonard Stein (then director of the Arnold Schoenberg Institute), and Dorrance Stalvey, visiting professor. “I had thought,” Domine recalled later, “that I would write the Quartet over the summer, submit it in the Fall semester, have it performed at my Masters’ Recital and be done with it. How wrong I was! From when I first showed the piece to Professor Kohs until the time it was finally approved by the entire faculty committee, I logged 372 changes to the score, large and small.” At length, after having undergone a thorough and academically rigorous examination undertaken by all members of the committee, the String Quartet #1 was finally approved and performed along with the Woodwind Quintet, the Trio for Violin, Violoncello and Piano, and For Simon Rodia: A Song Cycle for Soprano and Piano on Domine’s Masters Recital Concert at the Arnold Schoenberg Institute Auditorium at USC in 1983.

The Quartet is cast in one extended movement, and the entire piece is based on a single twelve-tone row which serves as the basis for the harmonic and melodic structure of the music. The four forms of the row, original, inversion, retrograde and retrograde inversion are manifested as thesis, hypothesis, synthesis and antithesis in the gradual working-out of the harmonic sequence embedded in the superstructure of the piece. The Quartet constitutes a theme and variations sequence of developmental musical episodes.

String Quartet #1 (Thesis)

  • This includes the Program Notes as a separate PDF, and the PDF musical score file.