String Quartet No. 2 (Ligeti)

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György Ligeti's String Quartet No. 2 is a string quartet that was composed between February and August 1968.[1] It consists of five movements:

  1. Allegro nervoso
  2. Sostenuto, molto calmo
  3. Come un meccanismo di precisione
  4. Presto furioso, brutale, tumultuoso
  5. Allegro con delicatezza

It is approximately 21 minutes in duration. It is dedicated to the LaSalle Quartet who gave its first performance in Baden-Baden on the 14 December 1969.

The five movements differ widely from each other in their types of motion. In the first, the structure is largely broken up, as in Aventures. In the second, everything is reduced to very slow motion, and the music seems to be coming from a distance, with great lyricism. The pizzicato third movement is another of Ligeti's machine-like studies, hard and mechanical, whereby the parts playing repeated notes creates a "granulated" continuum. In the fourth, which is fast and threatening, everything that happened before is crammed together. Lastly, in strong contrast, the fifth movement spreads itself out. In each movement, the same basic configurations return, but each time their coloring or viewpoint is different, so that the overall form only really emerges when one listens to all five movements in context.[2]


  1. ^ Steinitz, Richard (2003). György Ligeti: Music of the Imagination. Boston: Northeastern University Press. p. 167. ISBN 1-55553-551-8. 
  2. ^ Stephen Plaistow, in the liner notes to the Deutsche Grammophon recording 423 244–2 of Ligeti’s Chamber Concerto, Ramifications, String Quartet No. 2, Aventures, and Lux aeterna, p. 3.