The Tokyo String Quartet, one of the veteran ensembles in chamber music, will disband in June 2013. The decision comes five months after two founding members of the ensemble announced their retirement.
The quartet initially said it would audition replacements for the departing members, second violinist Kikuei Ikeda and violist Kazuhide Isomura. The other two members, violinist Martin Beaver and cellist Clive Greensmith, began a search which yielded "no shortage of fine applicants," according to a statement on the quartet's Web site.
But ultimately the task proved too difficult, the quartet said, and it would end its eventful, 44-year run.
"It is a difficult prospect to replace one long-standing quartet member," the statement continued. "To replace two of them simultaneously is a Herculean task. With the retirement of our colleagues in our minds, we increasingly felt over the last few months that the most fitting way we could honor and celebrate our quartet's long and illustrious career was to bring it to a graceful close."
The Tokyo was formed in 1969 by four Japanese musicians studying at the Juilliard School, but they trace their origins to the Toho School of Music in Tokyo, where the founding members all studied under Hideo Saito. The quartet has been on the faculty of the Yale School of Music since 1976 and is also quartet-in-residence at the 92nd Street Y. The quartet has made over 40 recordings in the course of its career.
The British cellist Greensmith joined in 1999, and Canadian Beaver came aboard as the first violinist in 2002.