Morton Feldman: String Quartet No. 2

  • for string quartet
  • Instrumentation details:
    1st violin
    2nd violin
    viola
    violoncello
  • Composer: Morton Feldman

Work introduction

Morton Feldman’s String Quartet No. 2 is the longest in the genre’s history. It is quiet, alterations are minimal, individual patterns repeating. Some listeners think that the music gradually becomes part of the environment, while others feel that time is suspended, that one is confronted with the problem of remembering and forgetting.

The American composer Christian Wulff, a companion of Feldman’s, opines that, like other unusually long pieces of his, Feldman’s Second String Quartet is a provocation against musical institutions; none of the works could fit into any conventional concert situation – the pieces challenge such situations and, indirectly, the social system they represent. Wulff writes that the music is an aggressive provocation without an aggressive sound; on the contrary, it is hauntingly beautiful. Wulff says the extreme length puts the listener’s powers of concentration to the test, the result of which could be a transformation.

Bálint Varga

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