String Theory
for violin and piano

John Burge
John Burge
Composition Date: 2012
Duration: 00:14:00
Genre: Strings (bowed), + Keyboard, Violin


Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 1 x Piano
  • 1 x Violin
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Programme Note:
String Theory, for solo string instrument and piano (versions available for violin, viola or cello) was composed as the test piece for the 2012 Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition. The title is a bit of a play on words in the way that it makes reference to the branch of particle physics given the same label, while on the music side it represents a systematic or theoretical approach to writing for string instruments. Indeed, the work is a compendium of string effects such as glissandos, tremolos, harmonics, multiple-stopped chords, pizzicato and different bowing techniques. On a deeper level, the scientific branch of string theory is considered a contender for a "theory of everything," and this musical composition certainly tries to cover as many emotional levels as possible within the constraints of the work’s overall duration. While the composition is structured in a contrasting slow-fast-slow design, a high level of cohesion is obtained as the music repeatedly comes back to the opening four-note motive heard initially in the piano. Not wanting to leave the piano out of the investigation of novel effects, the pianist is asked to pluck some high notes inside the piano at the very end of the work as the string player spins out the last few high notes.
On May 4th and 5th, this work was performed by seven musicians in the semi-final round of the competition: four violinists, two cellists and one violist. Three finalists repeated the work again on May 6th with the following prizes being awarded: First prize to Brian Yoon, cello; Second prize to Dorothy Ro, violin; Third prize to Véronique Mathieu, violin. Brian Yoon performed the work again on the winner’s national tour of Canada in the fall of 2012 with collaborative pianist, Eliza Ching. The competition was judged by all four members of the Borealis String Quartet.

Premiere Information:
May 4-6, 2012
Queen Elizabeth II Music Building, Brandon University, Brandon, MB
Performed by the seven semi-finalists of the 2012 Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition for Strings


  • Call Number:
  • MI 3211 B954st
  • Genre:
  • Strings (bowed), + Keyboard, Violin
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • August 31, 2012
  • Type:
  • Print-music, Published by CMC
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score (22 p.) ;
    22 Pages
    Height: 32 cm
    Width: 24 cm
    Parts page count: 11
    1 part (11 p.) ;
    Height: 28 cm
    Width: 22 cm
  • Additional Information:

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String theory for violin and piano: Score and Parts
Score and Parts
(downloadable PDF)
String Theory for violin and piano by John Burge (Score)
Printed on demand
String Theory for violin and piano by John Burge (Score and Parts)
Printed on demand
Chamber Music of John BurgeChamber Music of John BurgeCD $13.98
String theory for violin and piano: Score
(downloadable PDF)
String Theory for violin and piano
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