This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
{ Click on the image to expand the photo }

The Elegant String Quartet

27 June 2020

Elegance equals style with grace.
Style combines poise with sophistication.

Poise blends charm with loveliness.
And charm melds it all into beauty.

These four young women possessed
elegance, style, poise, charm and more.
All very inspiring for the photographer
to produce a splendid portrait of their string quartet. 

The photograph is a high gloss 8" x 10" print mounted on a large plain card suitable for framing. It is nearly as perfect as when it came out of the anonymous studio, requiring very little correction on my part, though I've cropped the full image to better fit the constraints of my blog.

The two women standing hold violins, but I'm unsure if the seated woman on the right has a viola or a violin. My guess is that it is a small viola which sometimes can be shortened to be as long as a standard violin, but has a body that is wider and thicker. Notice that the cello's end pin is hidden by the fur skin rug that always seems to on the floor in studio photos of this time.
The young ladies are perhaps ages 16 to 19, and I would estimate the date of the photo as around 1892-96 when their top knot hair style was popular. Sadly the location is unknown, as without any photographer marks or annotations I can only assume they are American musicians. In this era the standard string quartet was not as common to see on the concert stage. They look more like students of a conservatory to me, but they might be a professional "Ladies String Quartette" which in the 1890s was a new term that started appearing in newspaper reports and reviews.

Back in September 2019, I featured a very similar photo of four young ladies with guitars and mandolins in a story entitled Pretty as a Picture. That cabinet card photo from Macomb, Illinois was dated 1895 and had the names of the women on the back which allowed me to write a longer story. Here I've used much of the same adjectives again, but without clues that's as much as I can do, so I will let beauty speak for itself.

However I can offer a modern contrast with the 
Amadeus Electric Quartet
performing the instrumental version of
"Hijo de la luna".
The two violins and cello are electric instruments
and the violist seems to have traded up to a synthesizer keyboard.
Instead of a sheepskin rug
they get a disco smoke machine!

I'll let readers judge
which string quartet is the most elegant.

* * *

* * *

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where a spot of tea is always appreciated.


Virginia Allain said...

What lovely dresses. I'm sure the performance was a hit.

Barbara Rogers said...

I don't know what kind of theatrics might have been part of a performance in early 20th century string quartets, but I'm sure I would have preferred that to the drama of the Amadeus ladies.

ScotSue said...

As the text emphasizes - charm, poise and beauty personified.

Molly's Canopy said...

What a unique contribution to this week's Sepia Saturday -- allowing us to compare and contrast. Each quartet appears to represent the musical talents and beauty of their age. I love how the electronic instruments of the modern quartet allude to the shape of their earlier cousins -- and how, modern though they be, they are still attired in white.

La Nightingail said...

Simply put: Beauty is as beauty does - appropriately for each in their own times. The earlier quartet of women were charming and lovely in their time. The women in the more modern quartet are charming and lovely - with perhaps a bit of a wink - in their time as are their instruments. Personally, I prefer the modern gals as they are more interesting to watch, and their music has a fuller, richer sound to my ear. It is interesting to note, however, beauty is a united factor in both quartets!

Lacie P said...

I think both quartets are elegant in their own way, as both are in different eras. Society in both times will have what they consider "elegant" and "beauty" in orchestral music or music in general. The earlier quartet is all the words that you described--charming, poise, and beauty. The modern quartet is graceful as well. You can see their emotions being conveyed through their electric instruments.


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