MSQ Rome

Welcome to the

Manhattan String Quartet’s

22nd annual ‘Cultural Expedition’

MSQ Rome 2024

January 14th to 21st, 2024
Rome, Italy

We are excited to announce our program for our week in Rome, Italy during which we will engage with the works of both Mozart and Michelangelo, from
January 14 to January 21, 2024!

We are primarily a chamber music conference for string players but we welcome all who would like to attend, including spouses, guests and all cultural aficionados!

Please explore the pages of this website to learn about the details of this year’s artistic focus, the various conference activities, our magnificent hotel the Donna Camilla Savelli, our tour plans around Rome and our online registration process.

We look forward to spending the week with you in Rome!

Photo of MSQ Quartet

Curt, Marka, Chris and Anna


There is perhaps no better way to understand the concept of ‘genius’ than to consider the lives and works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni.

Fountains of creativity, both artists produced works that have ennobled our civilization and to this day provide us each with the sublime awe we perceive at the perfection of a mere turn of a phrase or the shape of a line.

Michelangelo had a profound impact on the culture of Italy during the High Renaissance and, in the time he spent in Italy during his early years, Mozart was deeply influenced by Italian music and art.  We can only imagine his reaction to the Sistine Chapel when he received a medal there from Pope Clement XIV in 1770!

We feel so fortunate to be able to devote our time to the study of these great masters.

We look forward to expanding both our appreciation and understanding and hope you will be able to join us.



Mozart’s Quartet

Our primary artistic focus will be our study of Mozart’s Quartet in E flat , K428 from 1783. The 3rd of his six Quartets dedicated to his great contemporary, Franz Joseph Haydn, Mozart’s homage is filled with adventurous harmonies and subtle pranks clearly in pointed praise of his treasured mentor. Oh, to have been there at their first reading!

MSQ Rome 2024Applicants are accepted either as individual players who will be placed into quartets on a daily basis or as formed quartets. All will receive coaching by the members of the Manhattan String Quartet and our colleague, Dr. David Clampitt in five morning sessions.

MSQ Rome 2024
David Clampitt – Lecture
David Clampitt

David Clampitt

Dr. David Clampitt, our prized resident theorist, will guide us through the secrets of form and harmony in Mozart’s fascinating Quartet. Mr. Clampitt puts us in the composer’s mind and offers vitally important insight towards our understanding of how great works of art are constructed.

David’s unique gift is to make analysis applicable to the performer, using demonstrations by the Manhattan Quartet!

Jan Swafford – Lecture
jan swafford

Jan Swafford: composer & author

It is our distinct pleasure to have Jan Swafford with us in Rome!
Mr. Swafford is a renowned author and composer whose most recent publication is his brilliant biography of Mozart, The Reign of Love.
Jan will deliver his unique perspective in our opening lecture and speak to us about Mozart’s formative years spent in Italy. We will learn how the traditions of Italian opera contributed to his sense of melody and style and helped shape his mature voice.


Michelangelo di Ludovico Buonarroti

Michelangelo di Ludovico Buonarroti Simoni was certainly one of the most important and influential artists of our civilization. His eminence as sculptor, painter and architect has only increased over the five centuries since the High Renaissance.

Rome is blessed with many of Michelangelo’s masterworks in each of his genres. These include his magnificent frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, both on the ceiling and the altar wall, located in the Vatican Museums. Just next door in St. Peter’s Basilica is his sublime sculpture, The Madonna della Pieta, or simply ‘the Pieta’ which he completed at age 23. And his design of the Dome of St. Peter’s presides over all of Vatican City with its timeless elegance.

We will devote a full day to a private, guided visit to encounter these masterpieces.

Daniella Hunt – Lecture
Daniella Hunt

Daniella Hunt

In preparation our resident Rome scholar and guide par excellence, Daniella Hunt, will whet our artistic appetites with an afternoon talk about the life and works of this great master.

American Academy of Rome

American Academy of Rome

The Manhattan Quartet’s concert will be held on Friday evening at the elegant American Academy of Rome. We are honored that this august institution will host our concert. The Academy is at the pinnacle of scholarly and artistic research in Rome and is the residence for winners of the Rome Prize. The American Academy’s alumni in music are a veritable who’s who of 20th and 21st century American composers.

The Villa Aurelia on the American Academy’s campus is located on Janiculum Hill, a short walk from our hotel.

Hotel Accommodations

The Donna Camilla Savelli

The exquisite Donna Camilla Savelli will be our conference home in Rome. Located in the vibrant and fascinating Trastevere region, the Donna Camilla Savelli is a newly renovated 17th century convent built by the illustrious architect Francesco Borromini for the Farnese family. Retaining many of its original Baroque archways and frescoes, the hotel is an elegant retreat from the excitement of modern day Rome.

The Donna Camilla Savelli’s address is Via Garibaldi, 27, 00153 Roma RM, Italy

The Donna Camilla Savelli
The Donna Camilla Savelli
The Donna Camilla Savelli
The Donna Camilla Savelli

Our Team

Critically acclaimed as one of America’s leading ensembles, the MANHATTAN STRING QUARTET is celebrating its 50th season this year. Hailed by Michael Steinberg of the Boston Globe as “a national treasure,” the Manhattan Quartet has appeared throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, Mexico and South America. Notable among its many recordings is the complete cycle of fifteen Shostakovich string quartets which TIME Magazine called “One of the most important musical events of 1991”.

The group has been Quartet-in-Residence at Colgate University since 1988 and has also held similar posts at the Manhattan School of Music, Cornell University, Grinnell College, Western Connecticut State University, the Chamber Music Institute in Racine, Wisconsin and Michigan’s Interlochen National Music Camp (for 21 summers). In 2011, in collaboration with the Sarajevo Academy of Music, the Manhattan Quartet established the Sarajevo Chamber Music Festival.

Since 1989 the Manhattan String Quartet has hosted annual teaching and performing conferences in the United States and Europe for pre-professional quartets and amateur players.

MSQ Group Photo

Curtis Macomber – Marka Gustavsson – Anna Lim – Chris Finckel

“The players come to the music with circumspection and unflagging intensity.”

“A national treasure”

David Clampitt

DAVID CLAMPITT is a music theorist and violinist, Professor-Emeritus at Ohio State University, where he taught from 2008 to 2023, having been previously on the faculty of Yale University, 1997-2008. The author of many articles and book chapters, he is a recipient of the Emerging Scholar and Outstanding Publication Awards from the national Society for Music Theory. A founding member of the Algonquin String Quartet during his years as a violinist in New York City, he has been a regular member and occasional soloist with Orchestra New England in New Haven and has appeared as a recitalist at Yale. He continues playing chamber music as well as doing music theory research. Since 2003, on every one of the Manhattan String Quartet’s European musical adventures, he has given—together with the Quartet—his popular lecture/demonstrations.

MSQ Rome 2024

Jan Swafford is an American composer and author. He earned his bachelor of arts magna cum laude from Harvard College and his DMA in composition from the Yale School of Music. His music has been widely played by ensembles, including the symphonies of St. Louis, Indianapolis and the Dutch Radio.

MSQ Rome 2024

He is the author of biographies of Ives, Brahms, Beethoven and Mozart. His many honors include an NEA Composer Grant and the Deems Taylor Award. He is a longtime program writer and preconcert lecturer for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and has written notes and essays for the orchestras of Cleveland, Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit and Toronto. Among his liner notes for  recordings are those for Deutsche Grammophon’s anniversary release of Beethoven’s nine symphonies by the Vienna Philharmonic.

Registration & Application

Participating Musicians:
Single Room — USD $ 3,800
Double Room — USD $ 3,400

Non-playing Guests and Spouses:
Single Room — USD $ 3,100
Double Room — USD $ 2,800

FEES INCLUDE: 7 nights lodging at the Hotel Donna Camilla Savelli, Rome, Italy; daily breakfast and lunch, welcome reception and dinner; farewell dinner and all conference activities.

A non-refundable deposit of $500 per participant and $300 per guest or spouse is required and must be included with your application form. In the case of applicants whom we are not able to accept, deposits will be returned. Prices do not include transportation to Rome, Italy.

The Conference begins with dinner on Sunday evening, January 14 and ends with breakfast the following Sunday, January 21. All additional tour activities, including pre- and post-conference tours and guest and spouse tours, will require additional payments.

Cello rentals are availableContact Manhattan String Quartet for rental fees and other details.

The Manhattan Quartet is aware of the recent rise in COVID infections and we are monitoring the situation, both here in the USA and in Rome, as closely as possible. Please know the health and protection of our participants is our primary concern. To this end we may be compelled to require all of the usual safeguards including testing, proof of vaccination and the wearing of masks.

Application and Deposit Deadline: October 16, 2023

Final Acceptance Notification: October 23, 2023

Full Payment Due: November 6, 2023


The faculty welcomes pre-formed quartets as well as individual musicians. Acceptance will depend upon the number of applicants and the need for balanced instrumentation in assembling the participants into full quartets. We will accept 40 playing participants and an unlimited number of guests and spouses.

Non-playing guests and spouses are required to fill out a separate application form. Just select the guest option for the application type when filling out the application form. There is no limit for Guests and Spouses.

Acceptance will depend upon the number of applicants and the need for balanced instrumentation in assembling the participants into full quartets.

Pre-formed quartets will be immediately accepted.

We have transitioned to an online application/registration process and no longer offer paper forms for download. If you need help registering, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Payment in full is due by November 6, 2023.
No refunds after November 6, 2023, except for those we are not able to accept.

We strongly recommend personal travel insurance to cover the possibility of your unexpected cancellation.

Neither Hotel Donna Camilla Savelli nor MSQ Enterprises, Inc. is responsible for personal property or personal injury.

Pre & Post Conference Tours

Here is the schedule of the Post and Pre Conference Tours for Rome to help you make your travel plans. As always, these will be memorable guided tours and will entail separate fees and extra hotel nights.


Friday’s trips are both guided walking tours and have been designed to acquaint you with our immediate neighborhood of Trastevere and with some of the highlights of the ancient center of Rome. They are also to help you shake off some of the lingering effects of jet lag! These areas of Rome are, gratefully, mostly flat but bring your walking shoes.

A Walk in Trastevere: Exploring Our Neighborhood

Friday January 12, 2024 - 9:30 AM

Ancient Romans looked down their nose at the neighborhood, which is now the hippest and most popular in all of Rome. In fact, the Latin Trans Tiberim (or Trastevere in Italian) says it all. Literally, “on the other side of the river,” it was like saying “on the other side of the tracks.” Yet during the middle ages, Trastevere was home to aristocratic families who proudly employed cutting edge artists to decorate their neighborhood churches. Departing from our hotel, we will stroll through the neighborhood, focusing on the revolutionary artist Pietro Cavallini, who worked in both frescos and mosaics in the Church of Santa Cecilia (the patron saint of musicians!) and the stunning Basilica of Santa Maria. (Guided walking tour. $60 per person. Approximately 2.5 hours with time to grab some lunch in between, lunch not included)

Rome Pre Conference Tours

Rome’s Historic Center: Intermingling the Old and the Less Old

Friday January 12, 2024 - 2:00 PM

Ancient Rome’s grandeur survives not only in its archaeological areas but also in the heart of the modern city. We’ll explore its remaining antiquities, which are hidden in and under the modern city’s fabric. We’ll talk about Piazza Navona (which replaced an imperial olympic stadium), a variety of temples, and other ancient landmarks, and how they intermingle with art and architecture from later centuries. The tour will end with a visit to the renowned 2,000 year old Pantheon. (Guided walking tour. $60 per person. Approximately 2.5 hours)


The Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill

Saturday January 13, 2024 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM

How many times have you experienced a 2,000- year-old downtown, which lorded over an empire? And have you ever strolled through an equally old imperial mansion? Well, this is your chance! You will walk away from ancient Rome’s city center, the Roman Forum, with a greater understanding of its uses over the centuries and you’ll experience how the top 1% lived as we sashay through Emperor Domitian’s Mansion on the Palatine Hill. So, jump into a time capsule and explore ancient Rome with us!

(Note: this is a 2-part visit, with the Forum in the morning and the Palatine Hill in the afternoon. Sign up for either morning, afternoon, or both to get the full picture! Lunch in a nearby restaurant as you choose, but not included. These are guided visits that include tickets and transportation. $85 per tour.)


The Colosseum: A Proto-Guinness World Records Engineering Marvel

Sunday, January 14, 2024 10:00 AM (and 2:00 PM if needed)

The Colosseum is perhaps the best-known stadium in the world, made famous by the blood sports it housed. The Colosseum is in fact as architecturally modern if not more modern than the stadiums we build today. Much of this visit is dedicated to unveiling imperial Romans’ use of sophisticated building material and techniques to produce an engineering marvel that still stops people in their tracks. As a bonus, we’ll be able to visit the Colosseum’s underground area and the arena. And we’ll talk about the seamier side of ancient Roman entertainment, the lives of professional gladiators, and the first-hand descriptions that ancient writers provide about the games.

(We have listed two sections for this tour as our guide is only allowed a small number of guests per trip. If the morning section fills up we’ll add an additional time in the afternoon. Tickets to the Colosseum proper and the arena area and transportation included. $100 per person.)

MSQ Rome 2024


POMPEII and the Archaeological Museum of Naples

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Imagine a trip back in time to a wealthy city of the Roman Empire. Covered in ash by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D., the excavated marvels of Pompeii present a view of Roman history unlike any other archaeological landmark. This UNESCO World Heritage site features a look into an entire town of excavated villas with frescoes and mosaics, thermal baths, temples, theaters and even ancient fast-food establishments.

After the morning tour of Pompeii and a lunch of classic Neapolitan pizza, we will visit the spectacular Archaeological Museum of Naples. One of the great museums of the world, it houses marble statues and elaborate mosaics primarily found in Pompeii. Its collection boasts the famous gargantuan marble statue, the “Farnese Hercules”, as well as the “secret cabinet” of ancient erotic artifacts.

This will be an all day guided trip leaving the hotel in the morning and returning in the late evening. $260 per person including guides, transportation, tickets and lunch.

Photo of Rome

Guest and Spouse Tours

These guided trips are exclusively for our guests and spouses and will occur when the musicians are delving into the wonders of the Mozart Quartet. They will all leave the hotel at 9:30 and return in time for the group lunch at the hotel. All tickets, transportation, and guide fees are included. Price $85 per trip, per person.

Layers of Roman History at the Basilica of San Clemente

Monday, January 15

Ancient Romans looked down their nose at the neighborhood, which is now the hippest and most popular in all of Rome. In fact, the Latin Trans Tiberim (or Trastevere in Italian) says it all. Literally, “on the other side of the river,” it was like saying “on the other side of the tracks.” Yet during the middle ages, Trastevere was home to aristocratic families who proudly employed cutting edge artists to decorate their neighborhood churches. Departing from our hotel, we will stroll through the neighborhood, focusing on the revolutionary artist Pietro Cavallini, who worked in both frescos and mosaics in the Church of Santa Cecilia (the patron saint of musicians!) and the stunning Basilica of Santa Maria. (Guided walking tour. $60 per person. Approximately 2.5 hours with time to grab some lunch in between, lunch not included)


Early Christian Mosaics - Santa Maria Maggiore, Santa Pudenziana and Santa Prassede

Tuesday, January 16

What can mosaics tell us about early Christian communities, the concerns of the faithful in the Middle Ages, and the politics of the Church of Rome? A lot! So, we’ll explore these questions in a morning visit dedicated to Santa Pudenziana (with its mosaics from the end of the fourth/ beginning of the fifth century A.D.), the imposing Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (with mosaics from the fifth and thirteenth centuries), and the nearby church of Santa Prassede (which sports ninth-century mosaics).

MSQ Rome 2024
MSQ Rome 2024

Villa Farnesina: Renaissance Splendor with frescoes of Raffaello

Wednesday, January 17

Meet Agostino Chigi, Renaissance banking tycoon extraordinaire! Then revel in the beauty of his summer home, built on the fringes of Trastevere in the early 1500s. Chigi hired Architect Baldassare Peruzzi to build the villa. And Peruzzi, who loved ancient Roman architecture, applied its grandeur to his patron’s villa. Then some of the most talented artists of the time (namely Raphael, his students, Peruzzi, and Sodoma) frescoed the villa’s rooms. Nowhere else in Rome will give you such a marvelous glimpse into the rip-roaring early Renaissance and its appreciation of classical antiquity!

MSQ Rome 2024

Maximum Michelangelo: Town Planner and Tomb Builder: San Pietro ai Vincoli and the Capitoline Hill

Friday, January 19

Michelangelo’s imposing Moses towers over Pope Julius II’s Tomb in the Church of San Pietro ai Vincoli. Michelangelo might be surprised that his Moses has reached stardom. After all, he dubbed the project as “a tragedy of a tomb.” But the modern take on this unequaled colossus in marble is that it is one of Michelangelo’s most glorious works. After our visit to Moses we will carry on to another of Michelangelo’s gifts to the city of Rome: the Capitoline Hill and his late Renaissance reconstruction of these medieval buildings.

MSQ Rome 2024

The Baroque: Caravaggio and Bernini at the Galleria Borghese

Saturday, January 20

The art collector Cardinal Scipio Borghese considered himself the luckiest art collector alive. And he was! Thanks to his uncle, the Pope, he possessed unlimited funds in an era in which talent abounded. And furthermore he had the legal protection necessary to extort and coerce artworks from artists and other collectors. It’s no surprise that his collection is magnificent. Expect to see and discuss artists who were contemporary to the cardinal, including Caravaggio and Bernini.

MSQ Rome 2024