Quartets Changing With the Times They Changed

“…By the 1950’s fewer composers were writing for the string quartet, which had been overshadowed by more exotic ensembles. It began to seem as quaint as a Sunday afternoon chamber concert at the local church. It might have continued to languish but for the advocacy of two ensembles: the San Francisco-based Kronos Quartet, founded in 1973 by David Harrington, its first violinist; and the London-based Arditti Quartet, founded a year later by Irvine Arditti, the violinist involved in the Boulez exchange.

Passionate, unflagging champions of new music, the two groups have, between them, commissioned nearly a thousand works; that achievement alone should earn them a lasting place in music history. They have also inspired a wave of young string quartets that specialize in contemporary music, including Ethel and the Meridian and Flux Quartets in America, and the Brodsky, Keller and Balanescu Quartets in Europe. Not to mention the salutary impact they have had on the classical music scene as a whole, which has become a little less staid and a little more open.” —New York Times

Bold and Brash

The world’s largest book: “Last month, MIT professor Michael Hawley set a new Guinness World Record for largest book with the publication of Bhutan: A Visual Odyssey Across the Last Himalayan Kingdom, a 114-page photographic picture book recording four of his visits to the tiny country.

Opening to 1.5 by 2 metres and weighing more than 60 kilograms, the book is so big it needs its own Sherpa. The price? A cool $10,000 (U.S.), 17 times what the average Bhutanese earns in a year, although the books only cost $1,000 each to produce, with the remaining $9,000 benefiting the Bhutanese ministry of education as a charitable donation”

Adobe Says It Uses Anti-Counterfeiting Technology

“Adobe Systems Inc. acknowledged yesterday it had added technology to its popular Photoshop graphics software at the request of government regulators and bankers to prevent consumers from making copies of the world’s major currencies

Rival graphics software by Taiwan-based Ulead Systems Inc. also blocks customers from making copies of currency.

Experts said the decision by Adobe represents one of the rare occasions when the U.S. technology industry has agreed to include third-party software code into commercial products at the request of government and finance officials.” —Washington Post