For 2 violinists, violist and cellist

Christian Wolff

For 2 violinists, violist and cellist has been performed in Berlin, Borås, Montréal, Vancouver and Victoria…

For 2 Violinists, Violist and Cellist started partly under the sign of contingency and partly from a feeling of wanting to try another string quartet (three have preceded, the last over 20 years ago). There had been a tentative request, would I be interested in writing something for violin and cello. The idea appealed and I started. Then came a specific request, would I write for the Bozzini Quartet for Maerzmusik, with deadline and commission. I said yes and continued the violin and cello music as the beginning of a quartet.

What and, in these days, why string quartet? Well, there is the balance and quality of sonority. There is also the apparently unending and not to be discouraged presence and new formation of string quartets. Admittedly the older repertoire for quartet is impressive, down to Nono, Lachenmann and Feldman. But still… Anyway, that was the material offered, so I used it.

Generally, I don’t want to repeat what has been done, by others or myself. The latter is harder because once writing starts, it goes its own way, and that may be along paths I’ve marked out before. The best I can do then is to make sure careful attention is paid to every detail along the way, that every bit is itself, can exist on its own.

Ways of musical exploration have diminished a lot over the last 50 or so years, so much has been tried, especially in the area of sonority, extensions of sound-making techniques and effects. It seems to me one of the few areas left somewhat open is structure, what follows what. My own tendency is to avoid one idea or procedure or texture, homogenizing. I prefer possible disruption and inconsequence, not so much out of affection for disorder but as a way of looking for other forms of order, fluid and flexible ones, in which the performers and the performance are what matter most, that is, what actually is done and happens can be surprising, while the players find a confidence in acting under partially indeterminate conditions. The rhythm and feeling of that.


  • March 28, 2009, MaerzMusik 2009: Recital, Villa Elisabeth, Berlin (Germany)

For 2 violinists, violist and cellist

  • Christian Wolff
  • Year of composition: 2008
  • Duration: 23:00
  • Instrumentation: string quartet
  • Commission: MaerzMusik Festival, for the Quatuor Bozzini


28 Marc 2009
4:00 pm
Berlin (Germany)
7 Octo 2010
8:00 pm
Série QB
Montréal (Québec)
17 Nove 2010
8:00 pm
Borås (Sweden)
10 Marc 2011
8:00 pm
Victoria (British Columbia, Canada)
15 Marc 2011
8:00 pm
Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada)