Main content

Composer and electronic music pioneer Matthew Herbert physically deconstructs the instruments of a string ensemble while they play Beethoven's String Quartet in F, Op 135.

The innovative composer and electronic music pioneer Matthew Herbert physically deconstructs the instruments of a string ensemble while they play one of Beethoven's late string quartets, considered by many to be the epitome of chamber music. In a new commission, with an original performance by the Tippett Quartet, Beethoven's String Quartet in F major Op.135 is lovingly rendered until it starts to decay, collapse and become unrecognisable. The music unfolds with the sounds of the quartet being slowly replaced with the sound of snapping strings, instruments being sawn up, stamped on or burnt. In the end, all we hear are the instruments in a broken and destroyed state, in a piece which raises questions about our perceptions of acoustic instruments, in an age of instant digital reproduction.

Matthew Herbert's Requiem is jointly commissioned by BBC Radio 3, Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, and Centre National de Création Musicale (GMEM) in Marseille, where the sounds of broken instruments were recorded. Part of Radio 3's 70th season, celebrating seven decades of pioneering music and culture since the founding of the Third Programme.

Available now

30 minutes

Broadcast

Binaural sound

Binaural sound

What is it and why does it matter?

Podcast