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From Composition to Performance: innovations and interactions in contemporary string quartets

The premiere of Michael Finnissy’s Second String Quartet commissioned especially for this research project, for the Kreutzer Quartet, provides data for studying creative processes in the string quartet from composer-performer interactions.

In contrast with more theoretical approaches to contemporary music, this collaborative research promotes a performative approach to analysis. Interviews with the composer, recordings of rehearsals, and videos of performances and presentations involved in the preparation of players’ parts, together with the rehearsal of pieces by Stravinsky, Lutosławski and Ligeti, reveal different levels of communication and coordination in ensemble playing.

Notated cues are compared with gestures from the video footage in order to examine the extent to which the ensemble is required to reconfigure itself in response to the special demands of the pieces.


  • Igor Stravinsky – Three Pieces for String Quartet (1914)
  • Witold Lutosławski. – String Quartet (1964)
  • György Ligeti – String Quartet No. 2 (1968)
  • Michael Finnissy – Second String Quartet (2007)