Chamber music String instruments 1976

String Quartet No 5 (5. Streichquartett)

Commissioned by the Süddeutscher Rundfunk

Year of composition 1976
Duration 25 minutes

In memoriam Benjamin Britten

I ¼ = 72
II Breathless, wild
III ¼= Heartbeat
IV Quiet, distant
V Echoes, memories, from very far away
Morning song

World premiere

World premiere 25. May 1977

Schwetzingen · Concord Quartet


A reminiscence of the historical concept of the String Quartet as a place of inward intensification, of maximum concentration, of contemplation. It is as if a stroy is being told wherein nightmares occur and ghosts appear, les fleur du mal, numbness, hallucinations, horror. At one point, in the fourth movement, there is an instrumental version of the mad people’s madrigal in Act II of “We come to the River”.

Hans Werner Henze