Neil and I met in 1955 at Victoria University in Wellington and we both graduated with MSc in mathematics (he with honours and I with a bare pass!)
Thereafter our paths went in different directions but we kept in contact throughout the rest of our lives. After his doctorate in Cambridge (GB) he and Judith (also from our maths class at VUW) moved to Ithaca (NY State) where he was Professor of Solid State Physics at Cornell University and where he remained for the rest of his life. One of his colleagues at the university was Professor Robert Pohl. Neil's son Robert wrote in the program to the Neil Ashcroft Memorial Concert in Wellington on the 8 August 2021: "The Ashcrofts and the Pohls became close family friends, meaning that Neil knew Helene Pohl, first violinist of the NZ String Quartet, almost her entire life. … So, in thinking of a way to give a little bit back to New Zealand for all it provided to Neil, it seemed natural to work with the New Zealand String Quartet and sponsor this free concert".
The concert was planned with two Beethoven quartets: Op 18/1 and Op 135. I then wrote to Judith suggesting this present piece which she and the quartet immediately accepted.
(see further notes to the music in the preamble to the score)