Philip Glass, string quartet no. 4 (“Buczak”)









Glass’s string quartet no. 4, also known by its title “Buczak,” was commissioned by Geoffrey Hendricks in remembrance of the artist Brian Buczak.

Brian Buczak succumbed to AIDS in 1987 at the age of 33. The quartet was premiered at a memorial service on the second anniversary of the artist’s death on July 4, 1989 at the Hauser Gallery in New York.

This performance is by the Kronos Quartet.



I find this chamber work haunting, compelling, and _______ (I don’t know what other adjective or adjectives to use).

Especially the third movement (although the whole piece is written at a consistent level of inspiration).

Somehow, this work conveys to me the tragedy of the AIDS epidemic, at a time when a diagnosis of AIDS meant certain death, but I understand (read, hear) this piece of music not just as an abstract, programmatic statement (whatever that means), but as a moving tribute to a departed friend.

Somehow, this piece speaks to me of grief: the loss one feels upon death, what death means, in personal terms, what it is to experience it.

That’s the best I can do in trying to convey what this extraordinary piece means to me.



— Roger W. Smith

About Roger W. Smith

Roger W. Smith is a writer and independent scholar based in New York City. His experience includes freelance writing and editing, business writing, book reviewing, and the teaching of writing and literature as an adjunct professor. Mr. Smith's interests include personal essays and opinion pieces; American and world literature; culture, especially books and reading; classical music; current issues that involve social, moral, and philosophical views; and experiences of daily living from a ground level perspective. Besides (1), a personal site, he also hosts websites devoted to (2) the author Theodore Dreiser and (3) to the sociologist and social philosopher Pitirim A. Sorokin.
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