One might define music as sound that communicates emotion without language—sound, in fact, that defies and challenges language, expressing ideas that are simply not encompassed in linguistic possibility. How difficult, then, it must be to write a play about the experience of performing music; to express in words something that by definition transcends and evades words. Michael Hollinger, a playwright who started out as a musician and studied viola at Oberlin Conservatory, has set himself this challenge and risen to it with lots of flair, possibly because his intimate knowledge of both dramatic and musical forms has made him specially aware of the connections between the two.

Writing of his love affair with chamber music, especially the string quartet, Hollinger remembers that “I loved the intimacy of the [string quartet] form, the range and profundity of the repertoire, the way a melody becomes a supporting line as another...


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