Variations for guitar & string quartet


'Variations' for guitar and string quartet is a masterpiece in itself. Tsvetan Andreev's guitar playing gives the piece an unparalleled intensity, while the string quartet led by Jordan Dimitrov and Dora Dimitrova perfectly captures the nuances of the composition. The music develops organically and shows Beck's ability to skillfully transform harmonic and motivic ideas.

- Amplified Magazine (Germany)

Yale School of Music MMA graduation, 1992,
with conductor José-Luis Novo

This set of variations for guitar and string quartet unfolds in one continuous movement and runs about seven minutes. Rather than a series of character pieces based on a given theme, the piece opens up organically, with certain harmonic, rhythmic and motivic ideas presented in the opening bars being re-shaped into new guises as the music progresses. Some ideas return literally, but in a new context.  And, in turn, the accompanying ideas in this new context turn up themselves in unexpected places. Although the tone centers constantly change and shift, the piece begins and ends in C and this key center also frequently defines new sections (i.e., the guitar’s solo at the first tempo change). Structurally, the variations increase in tempo to the center of the music and then these tempi are also subjected to the variation process before the piece quietly closes as in the opening section.

Variations was composed in New York City in January of 1990 and premiered at Yale 17 February 1992. The players were Amy Baltzer and Bruce Bielawa (violins); Ab Sengupta (viola); Inbal Segev (cello); and Peter Constant (guitar). It was later recorded in Sofia, Bulgaria and is included on my 2023 release, remember (neuma 183).

guitar, 2 violins, viola, and cello
Date completed:
1990; 2015
ca. 8:00


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