1940-1956The ISQ's history begins even before 1957, the year of its foundation.In 1940, after immigrating to Israel from Hungary, violinist Lorand Fenyves founds the Fenyves Quartet, which existed under this name until the State of Israel was born in 1948.
The quartet subsequently changed its name to THE ISRAEL STRING QUARTET, performing until 1956, when it stopped its activities after Fenyves left Israel for Switzerland.
The members of the quartet at the time were:
- Lorand Fenyves - First Violin
- Alice Fenyves - Second Violin
- Oeden Partos - Viola
- Thelma Bentwich Yellin - Cello
In 1957 the quartet was re-founded by four members of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, naming itself for several years The NEW ISRAEL QUARTET, out of for some of the old members who were still alive.
The founders in 1957 were first violinist Alexander Tal and cellist Yaacov Mense. At first Mordechai Yuval played second violin and Daniel Benyamini played the viola.
After a while those two members were replaced by violist Zeev Steinberg (1959) and violinist Raphael Markus (1964).
The quartet, with Tal, Markus, Steinberg and Mense continued to perform until 1973. In this year, Alexander Tal left Israel, and the quartet started to perform with Ilan Gronich as first violin.
This period can be marked by significant musical activities such as concerts in Israel and abroad, including the first tour of an Israeli string quartet in the USA and Canada; recording of six LP records for the RCA label; and appearing with international soloists such as flutist Aurele Nicolet, cellist Maurice Gendron and pianist Hephzibah Menuhin.
During this period, the ISQ concentrated on performances and recordings in Israel, including the Israel Broadcasting Service, the Israel Festival, the Tel Aviv Museum and tours around the country.
In 1978 Gronich left Israel and the quartet engaged Yigal Tuneh as first violin of the quartet. Mr. Tuneh plays as first violin of the quartet till today.
Shortly after Yigal Tuneh joined the ISQ, the Quartet embarked on its first tour to Germany and Switzerland, followed by annual European tours.
The quartet continued its musical activities in Israel as well, performing in all the major chamber music series, the Israel Festival and recordings for radio.
In 1987, after the death of cellist Yaacov Mense, who founded the ensemble in 1957 and played in it for 29 years, the quartet engaged cellist Alexander Kaganowsky.
This period includes the first tours of the ISQ to the Far East and the establishment of strong musical ties with Japan. The quartet began touring the Far East biannually and recording its CDs in Japan, besides its activities in Israel and touring Europe.
ISQ Personnel Changes
Zeev Steinberg left the ISQ in 1993, after having played in the quartet for 34 years. For a while violist Yuval Kaminkovsky replaced him, however, after almost two years he left and violist Robert Mozes joined the quartet instead.
Violinist Raphael Markus left the quartet in 1995, after having played in it for more than 30 years.
He was replaced by violinist Elyakum Salzman.
In 1999 cellist Alexander Kaganowsky left Israel, after having played in the quartet for 13 years, following which the quartet did not perform for a couple of years.
Although there were a few personnel changes during these years, the quartet continued its musical activities in Israel, its tours abroad and its CD recordings in Japan.
2004 to present
The Israel String Quartet started to perform again in 2004. The new ensemble included, besides Yigal Tuneh, second violin Avital Steiner. For a while, violist Roman Spitzer (Principal Violist of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra) and IPO cellist Kirill Michanovsky played in it, and they were later replaced by violist Yuval Kaminkovsky and cellist Zvi Maschkowsky. Violist Amit Landau later replaced Kaminkovsky, and the quartet continued its activities in this last combination for approximately four years.
This period includes tours to Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands and Austria, as well as recordings for DOMusic and Quintone labels.
The most outstanding recordings include the world premiere of J. Joachim's Quartettsatz in C minor for DOMusic and the rare Hans Rott String Quartet in C minor for Quintone.
The ISQ also performed Hans Rott's String Quartet in C minor in Vienna in 2008, commemorating 150 years of the composer's birth, together with the “Hans Rott Gesellschaft” in Vienna.
Tuneh-Steiner- Mozes- Silvestri
The Israel String Quartet today
The Israel String Quartet today
Due to technical reasons the quartet underwent yet another personnel change. Violist Robert Mozes, former ISQ member of the late 90s, rejoined the quartet, and cellist Emanuele Silvestri, who immigrated to Israel from Italy to join the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra as Principal Cellist, joined the Israel String Quartet.
The ISQ today:
- Yigal Tuneh - First Violin
- Avital Steiner - Second Violin
- Robert Mozes - Viola
- Emanuele Silvestri - Cello
THE ISRAEL STRING QUARTET COMMEMORATES ITS MEMBERS, WHO PASSED AWAY AFTER YEARS OF PLAYING TOGETHER AND CONTRIBUTING TO ITS MUSICAL ACTIVITIES:
Raphael Markus 1928 - 2011
Zeev Steinberg 1918 - 2011
Yaacov Mense 1923 - 1987