Betsy Jolas has been a friend for many years. For a long time met at concerts - there are few musicians one meets as often at concerts in Paris - she was always very warm and kind to me, even if I hadn't played her music. Over the years we became close friends and I got to know her music much better. The more I listened to it, the more I discovered wonderful masterpieces of incredible variety.

Betsy has already written many works for the cello; alone, with piano and with ensemble. The first of her pieces that I played was Episode Cinquième for solo cello. She later took part in the Mystery Variations, a 50th birthday gift for me, and wrote a piece called A Fancy for Anssi. in 2016 I also played her Quatuor V in Canada at the Domaine Forget with wonderful young players.

For a long time I had been thinking of what I would could ask her to write for me that would have a special meaning. Two years ago I finally got an idea: There exist two beautiful pieces for cello and string orchestra which are so short that they are difficult to program. These pieces are Toru Takemitsu's Scene and Witold Lutoslawski's Grave. I thought that if Betsy would write a third piece, the three could be programmed either as a Triptych or separately, making the repertoire for cello and String orchestra at once much richer. Happily Betsy liked the idea and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra has commissioned the piece.

I am very touched and excited that just now - as Betsy is celebrating her 90th birthday - she has started writing this piece for me. I can't wait to see it finished and hopefully give it a long life.

AK 15.9.2016


"Side Roads" for cello and String Orchestra was finished on the 17th of July 2017 in Chérence. The piece became longer than originally planned, about 17:30 long and is for an orchestra of 6-5-5-3-2 strings.  The first performance will be with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra in Örebro, Sweden 18.10.2018.

As a special treat, Betsy started immediately to write a piece which she calls a Lied-cycle for cello and piano, for Anssi and Nicolas Hodges.

AK   21.7.2017

Betsy Jolas

photo © Pascal Dusapin

photo © Pascal Dusapin

photo © MvB

photo © MvB

photo © Pascal Dusapin

photo © MvB

First pages of "Side Roads", September 3rd 2017

Last page of "Side Roads"19.7.2017

Betsy explaining "Side Roads"  to Anssi 19.7.2017


Anssi Karttunen playing music by Betsy Jolas:

15.7.2016: Quatuor V, Domaine Forget, Quebec, Canada

22.2.2017: Quatre pieces en marge, Tirana, Albania (with Florent Boffard)

22.4.2017: Quatre pieces en marge, Reid Hall, Paris (with Nicolas Hodges)

5.10.2017: Episode cinquiéme, Nantes, France

7.10.2017: Episode cinquiéme, Philharmonie, Luxembourg

26.10.2017: Episode cinquiéme, UCDavis, California

4.11.2017: Episode cinquiéme, Centro Cultural Kirchner, Buenos Aires

18.10.2018: Side Roads, Örebro, Sweden