I have long been preoccupied with the idea of writing a string quartet. Quite frankly, whenever I recalled for myself the tradition of this exquisite genre, I kept on postponing composition. After the summits represented by the great series of quartets (Beethoven’s eighteen, Bartók’s six works), and the individual masterpieces (Debussy, Ravel, Berg) it takes considerable courage to attempt a new string quartet. And yet how many take the plunge! The final impetus to write mine was given by a commission from the Hungarian Radio.
The first sketches were jotted down in 1970, but work of another kind prevented me from completing the piece until the summer of 1972. The three movements are framed by a brief ritornello, appearing before the movements and at the end of the last movement, always in different forms and lengths, each according to the action of the movements. This action which unfolds behind the formal scheme can only be characterized by generalities since music “only expresses itself” (Stravinsky).
The first movement is a succession of vehement, dramatic and lyrical elements, the second is pondering, lyrical and vibrating, the third is like a “fleeting vision”. All three movements are interconnected. The construction of the first movement is: A-B-C-D-A1-B1-C1-D1-A2, the second: A—B—C—Ab, the third approximates the so-called “bridge form”: A—B—C—B—A. The musical material of the individual sections is not rigidly separated but is interwoven with the material of other sections.
Dodecaphony appears in twelve-tone rows and in the application of note-groups consisting of twelve notes, always in a flexible manner, never like a school exercise or dogmatically. I never relinquish any of my melodic, rhythmic and formal ideals. — Ferenc Farkas