String Quartet No. 1 (Ligeti)

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György Ligeti's String Quartet No. 1, titled Métamorphoses nocturnes, was composed in 1953–54. It is thus representative of what the composer himself used to call "the prehistoric Ligeti", referring to the works he wrote before leaving Hungary in 1956.[1] Ligeti was inspired to write this quartet by Bartók's two middle string quartets (the third and fourth), though he knew these works only from their scores, performances of them being banned under communist regimes at the time.[2]

It was premiered at the Vienna Musikverein on 8 May 1958 by the Ramor Quartet,[3] an ensemble that had also fled into exile.

The work is written in one continuous movement, which can be divided into seventeen contrasting sections:[1]

  1. Allegro grazioso
  2. Vivace, capriccioso
  3. A tempo
  4. Adagio, mesto
  5. Presto – Prestissimo
  6. molto sostenuto – Andante tranquillo
  7. Più mosso
  8. Tempo di Valse, moderato, con eleganza, un poco capriccioso
  9. Subito prestissimo
  10. Subito: molto sostenuto
  11. Allegretto, un poco gioviale
  12. Allarg. Poco più mosso
  13. Subito allegro con moto, string. poco a poco sin al prestissimo
  14. Prestissimo
  15. Allegro comodo, gioviale
  16. Sostenuto, accelerando – Ad libitum, senza misura
  17. Lento

The score is published by Schott Music.[4]


  1. ^ a b Griffiths, Paul (2003). Strinq Quartets Nos 1 & 2 – Ramifications etc (CD liner). György Ligeti. Deutsche Grammophon. 474327-2. 
  2. ^ Ligeti, György (1996). György Ligeti Edition Vol. 1 – Strinq Quartets and Duets (CD liner). György Ligeti. Sony Classical. SK62306. 
  3. ^ "Almanacco 8 May 1958" (in Italian). AmadeusOnline. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  4. ^ "György Ligeti – String Quartet No. 1". Schott Music. Retrieved 5 November 2010.