History and repertoire
The quartet was founded in 1974 by violinist Irvine Arditti together with John Senter, Levine Andrade and Lenox Mackenzie. Hundreds of string quartets and other chamber works have been written for the ensemble.
The group has given hundreds of world premieres and some of the most important composers include Thomas Adès, Louis Andriessen, Georges Aperghis, Harrison Birtwistle, Benjamin Britten, John Cage, Elliott Carter, Edison Denisov, James Dillon, Hugues Dufourt, Pascal Dusapin, Ivan Fedele, Morton Feldman, Brian Ferneyhough, Luca Francesconi, Francisco Guerrero, Sofia Gubaidulina, Jonathan Harvey, Toshio Hosokawa, Klaus Huber, Mauricio Kagel, György Kurtág, Helmut Lachenmann, György Ligeti, Bruno Maderna, Philippe Manoury, Conlon Nancarrow, Roger Reynolds, Wolfgang Rihm, Giacinto Scelsi, Salvatore Sciarrino, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Iannis Xenakis.
The ensemble believes that close collaboration with composers is vital to the process of interpreting modern music and therefore attempts to work with every composer whose music it plays. The players' commitment to educational work is exemplified by their masterclasses and workshops for young performers and composers all over the world. From 1982 to 1996 the quartet's members were resident string tutors at the Darmstadt Summer Courses for New Music.
The Arditti Quartet’s extensive discography now features over 190 CDs. Forty-two discs have been released as part of the ensemble’s series on the French label Naïve Montaigne. The series presents numerous contemporary composer features as well as the first digital recordings of the complete Second Viennese School's string quartet music. Stockhausen’s Helicopter Quartet is to be found here. As well as many composer portraits recorded in their presence, the complete quartets of Luciano Berio were recorded shortly before his death. The quartet have recorded for more than 20 other labels and some of the latest releases on the Aeon label include the complete string quartets by Harvey, Dusapin, Birtwistle and Gerhard and Ferneyhough.
Over the past 35 years, the ensemble has received many prizes for its work. They have won the Deutsche Schallplatten Preis several times and the Gramophone Award for the best recording of contemporary music in 1999 (Elliott Carter) and 2002 (Harrison Birtwistle). The prestigious Ernst von Siemens Music Prize was awarded to them in 1999 for "lifetime achievement" in music. The complete archive of the quartet is housed in the Sacher Stiftung in Basle, Switzerland.
- Irvine Arditti (violin) 1974-
- Ashot Sarkissjan (violin) 2005-
- Ralf Ehlers (viola) 2003-
- Lucas Fels (cello) 2006-
- Lennox Mackenzie 1974-1983
- Alexander Balanescu 1983-85
- David Alberman 1985-1994
- Graeme Jennings 1994-2005
- John Senter 1974-1976
- Helen Liebmann 1976-77
- Rohan de Saram 1977-2005
- Official Website
- Discography at SonyBMG Masterworks
- Arditti Quartet interview by Bruce Duffie, March 1, 1992
- Arditti Quartet films at the institute of Musical Research