Sinfonia 3

tribute to Luciano Berio and Ludwig von Beethoven
for String Quartet, Ensemble and Live Electronics

Track Record

  • First Performance: Sint-Truiden (November 8, 2008) by the Spectra Ensemble within the project Gouden Vleugels
  • Recording: Sint-Niklaas (November 11, 2008) VRT Klara by the Spectra Ensemble) within the project Gouden Vleugels
  • Audio: 

Program Notes

This piece, commissioned by the Spectra Ensemble for their participation in the Gouden Vleugels Contest 2008 in tandem with the Fenix String Quartet, is a tribute to Ludwig van Beethoven and Luciano Berio. It takes the fifth movement of Beethoven’s string quartet nº 15 op. 132 and treats it as in Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia. In other words: Beethoven (the past) tries to ‘break through’ Berio (the present). It is as if you ‘remember’ something without knowing precisely what it is: “Erinnerung”. At the same time throughout the piece this idea of the past transforms itself up to the point that it can be integrated into the present: “Er-Inner-Ung”. Very much the same way as the combination of a string quartet and ensemble reminds the idea of an 18th century Sinfonia Concertante (past), which the use of electronic transformations re-actualizes into the present.

Happy listening!

Peter Swinnen

About the Electronics

The string quartet should prerecord the fifth movement of Beethoven’s string quartet nº 15 op. 132 without accelerando. This recording controls the electronic transformations of the live string quartet and ensemble, and should be used as a ‘click track’ by the conductor.

All sound transformations are preprogrammed in a MaxMSP patch which can be downloaded for free from the composer’s website This patch consists of two audio inputs (one for a submix of the live string quartet, one for a submix of the ensemble) and two audio outputs to be directly connected to Front Left and Front Right speakers.

Notes for the performers

All dynamics are indicated by the size of the notes: the bigger the notehead, the louder it has to be played

The electronics are extremely sensitive to even small changes in timbre of the instruments. This gives the instrumentalists a lot of extended expressive means. As a general rule the instrumentalists should always strive to play in such a way that the acoustical blend amongst them is as smooth as possible, and then deviate from that to create special effects through the electronics.

The electronics have to be triggered by a musician, nearby the mixing console in the concert hall. Try to create the illusion of the electronics overwhelming the musicians in the beginning, then sounding more like a ‘distant remembrance’ in the middle part, and blending as much as possible with the acoustical instruments in the end.


pdf Download Composing the remembrance of an inspiration: an algorithmic approach.
From the fifth movement of Beethoven´s string quartet op.132 to Sinfonia 3 Erinnerung for (double) string quartet, ensemble and live electronics (2008)
, OrCIM Web Publications, 2009


Duration:ca 12 min
Instruments:String Quartet
Flute (also Alto in G)
Clarinet in Sib (also Bass)
Percussion (Marimba - Vibraphone - Tam Tam - Triangle - Temple Block Woodblock)
Electronics (1 person)

Performance materials

pdf Download the score

Download the Computer Program