The Corrosive Effects of Desire


for string quartet (2019)

Composer: frederickrawski
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Performed by invoke string quartet on 16 February 2019 at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier.
Performed by Julius String Quartet on 5 October 2020.


12 min.


string quartet


If half this ended, and half did not...
Invisible cities, mirages and dreams

Program Notes

The Corrosive Effects of Desire is a two-movement work for string quartet.  Conceptually, it is inspired by two quotes from the Buddhist philosopher Nāgārjuna (c. 150 – c. 250 CE) that explore the nature of desire.

First Movement
If half this ended, and half did not,
I would both end and never end,
Leaving half the grasper,
Dead and half undead,
Half the grasped destroyed,
Half undestroyed.

Second Movement

I may believe that objects of the senses,
Are the foundations of desire,
But they are like invisible cities,
Mirages and dreams.

[from the translation by Stephen Batchelor, Verses from the Center, Riverhead Books, New York (2000), used with permission]


Frederick Rawski

Frederick Rawski is a composer of concert and electronic music based in Kyoto, Japan. His work draws upon contemporary classical, electro-acoustic and traditional musical forms from around the world. He studied composition with John Fitz Rogers, Roger Zahab and John Malia at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and trained as a classical guitarist with Timothy Olbrych at the College of William & Mary. He once set a poem by Nezahualcoyotl to country music and sang it on a rooftop in Morocco. His day job is working as an international human rights lawyer. Links to audio and video recordings can be found at:

More Works from Frederick Rawski »


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