Wolfgang Rihm: 4. Streichquartett

  • for string quartet
  • Duration: 17’
  • Instrumentation details:
    1st violin
    2nd violin
  • Composer: Wolfgang Rihm
  • Dedication: dem Alban-Berg-Quartett gewidmet
  • Commission: komponiert für die Römerbad-Musiktage 1983, Badenweiler, zu deren zehnjärigem Bestehen.

arrangements & translations

Work specifications



Arrangement Information

Please check again the data you have given - thank you very much.

The license as well as our terms and conditions are available in writing. By clicking the button "Submit" you submit your data, which are checked by the Universal Edition. The Universal Edition is free to provide you with an offer on the basis of your information. From the transmission of your request, no claim can be derived for a license.

Work introduction

The String Quartet No 4 is indeed a string quartet – but not “The Fourth;” perhaps it is a Ninth – no one knows.

It is in three movements, two of which are fast (although not really that fast) and one of which is slow (but not only slow).

I composed the Fourth Quartet during the winter of 1980/81. It is a straggler and a harbinger at one and the same time. I haven’t heard it yet. I’m looking forward to its poesy, which doesn’t interest me at all anymore today, because it has already passed through the “interesting” stage, which is much more interesting – or as uninteresting as permissible today. But that is another story – think up something for yourselves, for goodness’ sake. Music isn’t behind the music or in the words alongside the music – guess what it is and win a prize.

And yet this string quartet is anything but cheery …

Wolfgang Rihm


From the programme booklet, Vienna Konzerthaus 1984

The String Quartet No 4 is an extremely emotional work, full of harsh contrasts, passionate outbursts, craggy in its progress; therefore it is formally difficult to pin down. The sequence of two fast movements and one slow final farewell is unusual, whereby the hefty unisono run-up at the start also corresponds structurally to the resignation of the close as it seeps away. The first part – dominated by its ascending motif – issues into an alla Marcia, allegro ma non troppo which, for a short time, entails uniformly shaped passages. The second movement also has a bipartite layout: a predominantly chordal introduction and an “aria” (beginning subito andante), whose cantabile character is short-lived. There is a “long rest” preceding the final movement; it begins ethereally, then flares up briefly before being extinguished rapidly.


World première

Badenweiler (DE)
Alban Berg Quartett

Previously Viewed Works

No previously viewed works