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String Quartet

String Quartet

for 2 violins, viola and cello
dedicated to the memory of Ludwig Van Beethoven

1. First movement
2. Second Movement
3. Third Movement

The most important obsession in my compositions written before this string quartet lays in the phenomenon of polyphonic stratification. I fell under the spell of different musical layers, put next or on top of each other. I was mainly fascinated by the fact of working with a recognizable item (a theme or a musical layer) suddenly being interrupted by another event, yet re-occurring as if it had continued 'to sound'. This phenomenon may be compared with a jazz concert, where the chord progression of the piano is suddenly interrupted by a drum solo, yet it re-appears at the right place as if it sounded continuously in the listener's subconscious. This was something I extensively investigated in my previous composition Hidden Facts for wind quintet (2004).

I continued this technique in my String Quartet, yet I was constantly wondering how these layers might evolve in an organic way and influence each other. Surprisingly, I did not find the answer in contemporary music, but rather in Ludwig van Beethoven’s work. Exactly in van Beethoven’s music we hear the continuous development of different themes. The resulting String Quartet is a 'Beethovenian' composition, in which the development of the different layers almost has a thematic function. Going through a slow introduction (First movement ), the music is suddenly interrupted by a tempestuous middle section (Second movement ) evolving in one insane, obsessive line to a big climax. The last section (Third movement ) restores calmness and exists only of sustained continuous tones.

In my music, I always pursue a natural, intuitive and organic style, where the underlying system just becomes the means to result into the sound that I originally had in mind. This String Quartet may sound as a whimsical and rhetorical composition, but in spite of its vividness the structure is based on a serial system, originating from natural harmonics (flageolet tones) of the available 16 strings. In the last movement, the second violin and the viola play different instruments, being tuned in scordaturae (respectively half a tone and quarter of a tone lower). The achieved harmony in this last movement establishes the base for the entire composition.

Bram Van Camp - String Quartet (Arditti Quartet)

Live concert by the Arditti Quartet

New Note Festival - Samobor, Croatia

HRT (Croatian Radio and Television - 07/10/2014)

9 minutes
  • Violin 1
  • Violin 2
  • Viola
  • Violoncello
Commissioned by
Concert Organization Conservatory of Antwerp
In cooperation with
Studiecentrum Vlaamse Muziek (Research Centre of Flemish Music)

2nd prize International Composition Concours NEW NOTE 2014 (Samobor, Croatia)


deSingel, Antwerp, Blauwe Zaal
Kandinsky Quartet