June 9, 2021

Belin Quartet Concert Program

John Helmich, violin
Julie Fox Henson, violin
Jonathan Sturm, viola
George Work, cello

Haydn String Quartet in E-flat, Op. 33, No. 2, “The Joke”

I. Allegro moderato
II. Scherzo: Allegro
III. Largo
IV. Presto

Program notes

By 1782, the quartet genre had been solidified, in large part thanks to Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809). When the six quartets issued as Op. 33 were first performed, their great distinguishing feature was a new texture—a quartet that liberated the subordinate voices. Though Haydn is frequently referred to as the “father of the symphony”, he also pioneered the string quartet in which every instrument was equal and independent. The second quartet of the set, “The Joke”, is particularly effective because these new musical conventions allowed Haydn to highlight interplay between parts and juxtapose the expected with the unexpected.

The first movement of the piece offers an immediate example of the interactions between voices. Haydn’s Allegro moderato, cantabile playfully contrasts a short-short-long motive with its long-long-short counterpart. Haydn’s second movement is a dance in the form of a minuet and trio. The glissandi in the first violin part to contributes to an unrefined sound, an indication of Haydn’s sense of humor as a highly sophisticated composer imitating the efforts of village musicians. Haydn’s third movement follows a lyrical main theme first voiced by the viola and then passed through different instrumental pairings. The last movement gave the “Joke” Quartet its name. Clara Schumann wrote of how she laughed aloud after hearing it performed. The movement is built on a simple, catchy theme like that of the Scherzo. As the story goes, Haydn wrote the last movement to win a bet that ‘the people will always begin talking’ before the music stops.

For more than 20 years, Belin Quartet concerts have been presented to our community at no charge through the generosity of the Belin Family.

Meet the Musicians

About the Belin Quartet

The Belin Quartet has been harmonizing with the Des Moines community for more than 20 years. With instrumental support from the Civic Music Association since its founding, the Belin Quartet honors the enduring legacy of David Belin (1928-1999) and Connie Belin (1930-1980).

More about the Quartet
Tracy Engman Finkelshteyn

Tracy Engman Finkelshteyn

Violin

Violinist Tracy Engman Finkelshteyn joined the Belin Quartet in 2005. A Des Moines native, she earned Bachelor of Music Education and Doctor of Music degrees from Northwestern University and a Master of Music Degree from the Yale School of Music.

Tracy was a member of the first violin sections of the Winnipeg Symphony and Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and has served on the faculty of several Universities including Northwestern, St. Olaf College, Carleton College and North Carolina State University.

John Helmich

John Helmich

Violin

Violinist John Helmich has been a member of the Belin Quartet since 2004. John received his Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance and his Master of Music degree in Violin Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music. While there, he was awarded the Howard Hanson Scholarship and graduated with High Distinction.
Julie Fox Henson

Julie Fox Henson

Violin

Violinist Julie Fox Henson has been a member of the Belin Quartet since 2001 and is the Assistant Concertmaster of the Des Moines Symphony. She performs regularly as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the area. Julie enjoys a successful teaching studio in the Ames/Des Moines area and was voted the 2010 Leopold LaFosse Studio Teacher of the Year by the Iowa String Teachers Association.
Jonathan Sturm

Jonathan Sturm

Violin

Dr. Jonathan Sturm, violist, was a founding member of the Belin Quartet in 2000. He brings excellence to the complete spectrum of music: performance as a violin soloist, chamber musician, and concertmaster of the Des Moines Symphony, as a violist in the internationally acclaimed Ames Piano Quartet and as professor of Music History at Iowa State University.
Benjamin Burgdorf

Benjamin Burgdorf

Viola

As a classical performer, Benjamin Burgdorf has served as the violist of Lux String Quartet from 2013-2018 (named 2015-16, 2017-18 Classical MPR Class-Notes Artist), acting principal violist with the Des Moines Symphony, section violist with the Quad City Symphony, a member of the funky jam band Improvestra, a travel-blogging, improvising street artist in Wormwood, and a frequent collaborative soloist with composers both locally and nationally.

Burgdorf is at home performing in both rock venues and classical venues, having shared the stage at sold-out shows with Dessa, Jeremy Messersmith, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

George Work

George Work

Cello

Cellist George Work has been a member of the Belin Quartet since 2008. A professor of cello at Iowa State University and member of the Des Moines Symphony, George holds his bachelor’s and master’s degrees of music and a performer’s certificate from the Eastman School of Music, where he also served as teaching assistant to Robert Sylvester.

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22nd Summer Season

Belin Quartet Summer Concert Series

Join us on the lawn at Salisbury House and Gardens on Wednesday evenings at 5:30 PM for free performances by the Belin Quartet.

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