Chamber music String instruments 1991


For piano, two violins, viola and violoncello

Period of composition 1990/91
Duration 6 minutes

Commissioned by:
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (New York, NY)
University of California at Los Angeles
University of California at Berkeley
Celebrity Series of Boston, Massachusetts
Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
Chamber Music Chicago, Illinois
Peter and Regina Serkin

For Peter Serkin and the Guarneri String Quartet

I Con ferocia
II Adagio
III Litania

World premiere

World premiere 25. March 1993

Berkeley · University of California

Guarneri Quartett
Piano Peter Serkin


As with all the music I have written since 1960, I composed this piece in Marino, my home in the Castelli Romani. I began the Quintet in spring 1990, and wrote the last note on 6th April 1991. Together with the “Chamber Music 1958”, the “String Quartet No 5” and the “Viola Sonata”, I think this represents the most complete chamber music I have written. The music is based on my experience of (19th century) Classical techniques whereby everything is subject to continuous movement, change and variation, which in the dialectical sense is inherent in sonata form. One could, I imagine, argue that this music is in the Beethoven – Brahms – Schoenberg tradition, but one would also have to concede the presence of a personal and individual understanding of these models, which have always fascinated and challenged me (although not, however, in an academic sense) – and which have helped me to express myself as I wished.


Hans Werner Henze