String Quartet No. 6

Year of composition
Scored for
for string quartet
Georg Friedrich Haas
Instrumentation details

1st violin
2nd violin

Commissioned by

Ein Auftragswerk der Internationalen Stiftung Mozarteum (UA in Salzburg, am 23. Jänner 2011, Mozartwoche 2011), der KölnMusik und Wigmore Hall


World Premiere

Location: Stiftung Mozarteum Salzburg / Austria
Date: 23.01.2011
Orchestra: Hagen Quartett

Work introduction

The fourth strings of the second violin and viola are microtonally retuned. The result is a range of unusual aural possibilities: complex chords in the sound of the open strings, abstract combinations of natural harmonics, the fifth can be double-stopped as a third or a sixth. It is still possible to play on the other strings as usual.

The harmony of the piece is unstable. The musical events are not based on chords but on gliding transitions. The vertical structures are thus veiled: by slow glissandi, trills and tremolos.
The fifths of the open strings must be tuned correctly: at certain points at the start of the piece they are integrated into the progress of the music, but later this is avoided, as it is very likely that the strings will go very slightly out of tune: not enough to spoil the piece, but enough to compromise the effect of the open fifths. The unusual tuning also helps the piece to move away from fixed points of reference.

The idea is to alienate the listener, consistently destroying fixed points of reference within the piece – the goal is to glide freely through unknown aural landscapes.
Georg Friedrich Haas

Ensembles that have played this work

Arditti String Quartet
Kairos Quartett
Hagen Quartett
Quatuor Diotima