The Brodsky Quartet

The Brodsky Quartet

The Brodsky Quartet is celebrating its 50-year anniversary together. As the group gets ready to perform at Wimbledon International Music Festival in November, violist Paul Cassidy tells us how they make it work…

A popular fixture at the Wimbledon International Music Festival, The Brodsky Quartet always impresses and leaves audiences deeply moved. And it’s a festival the group really enjoys. Paul tells us: “It’s built up an amazing reputation really quite quickly, the level of artists is always impressive, and it has this incredible buzz about it.”

Since forming in 1972, The Brodsky Quartet has performed over 3000 concerts in more than 60 countries – and in excess of 70 recordings. Today, the group’s members are Krysia Osostowicz (violin) Ian Belton (violin), Jacqueline Thomas (cello) and violist Paul. Paul is a relative newbie to the quartet – he ‘only’ joined 40 years ago when he was 22.

The Brodsky Quartet was formed by brother and sister Michael and Jacqueline Thomas, and friends Ian Belton and Alexander Robertson, when they were youngsters, in the North East of England and was originally called The Cleveland Quartet. “It’s amazing to think of these children being so dedicated and taking it very seriously,” says Paul. Both Paul and Jaqueline have written books on the group, and they will be giving a talk ahead of their performance at the festival.

So, what is the secret behind the quartet’s longevity? “We’ve always been very curious and adventurous. We’ve done a lot of different things from fashion shows to working with Bjork and Elvis Costello. We even did a play with Brian Friel,” says Paul. “We’ve had our eyes open to doing different things and so it’s led to quite a diverse artistic existence.”

And maintaining a close group for so long? “You have to learn how to live and work within very close proximity to other people. And if you don’t achieve that, it’s not going to last. So here we are. And we’re happier than ever.”

At the end of October, the quartet will finish its 10-year residency at Kings Place in Kings Cross. “It’s coming to a natural close and we’re going to celebrate by playing all the 15 Shostakovich quintets in two days. There will be seven concerts plus talks and interviews, and hopefully some Champagne!”

Paul got into music at a young age. “There was a violin lying around the house and so I started to play. I had lessons but it was difficult times in Derry in the 1970s with the war on. There wasn’t anyone to teach me at a higher level so I headed to London.”

He advises young aspiring musicians: “It’s important to push yourself to get to where you want to be. But it is an amazing lifestyle. Music surrounds us, from going to a restaurant to watching a film. In a way, your life is told through music.”

“And it’s a beautiful thing to do. You get off your iPhone and off the couch and engage with your music. Even now, in this media-driven age, I’m tremendously encouraged that there are still the most amazing young musicians and artists coming through They’re prepared to put their time into music and that’s really heart-warming.”

Wimbledon International Music Festival, 5 to 29 November.

  • The Brodsky Quartet will perform 14 November

Pre-Concert Talk (6.15pm)


Also at the festival: Robin O’Neill – read our interview