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Mondriaan Kwartet


1982 - current


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Mondriaan Kwartet

The Mondriaan Kwartet begins in 1982 and plays mostly 20th- and 21st-century music for string quartet. It performs more than 100 world premieres, most of them the music of Dutch composers, and often performs in ballet and theatre productions.
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Former members

Prunella Pacey   altviool

Mentioned in the biography of

1991   Wiek Hijmans
1993   Irene Maessen
2001   Denise Jannah
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Biography Mondriaan Kwartet

The Mondriaan Kwartet begins in 1982 and plays mostly 20th- and 21st-century music for string quartet. It performs more than 100 world premieres, most of them the music of Dutch composers, and often performs in ballet and theatre productions.


The Mondriaan Kwartet takes shape. Jan Erik van Regteren Altena (violin) and his brother Eduard (cello) perform with Laurian Bos (violin) en Peter Hans Keunig (viola) as the Mondriaan Kwartet at the Willem Pijper Competition. They play Pijper’s first 'String Quartet' and win third prize. Later that year, the brothers and the violinist Edwin Blankenstijn and violist Prunella Pacey play, among other works, 'Streepjes' [Stripes], a piece written by Guus Janssen at Jan Erik van Regteren’s request. 'Streepjes' is well received at its premiere and it becomes the quartet’s most frequently performed piece.

Guus Janssen


At a house concert in Bilthoven, they perform under the name the Mondriaan Kwartet. From the beginning, they focus on music for the theatre and contemporary music.


The Mondriaan Kwartet works with Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s dance ensemble on 'Mikrokosmos', a dance production on music by Béla Bartók and György Ligeti. It plays Bartók’s fourth 'String Quartet'. In 1989, Wolfgang Kolb, with the quartet’s participation, includes the dance piece in his film 'Hoppla'. The quartet later works with the National Ballet, the Netherlands Dance Theatre, Scapino and Introdans, but its focus remains on the modern quartet repertoire. “We mustn’t act like we’re an accompanying quartet,” they say, emphasizing their priorities.


Prunella Pacey is replaced by Annette Bergman, who also plays in the Combattimento Consort. This is the quartet’s only personnel change. The Mondriaan Kwartet works with the composer Alfred Schnittke on a performance of his 'Piano Quintet' in Huddersfield. Irina Schnittke performs the piano part.


In honour of the Treaty of Maastricht, marking the founding of the European Union, John Paul Jones, the bassist in the rock band Led Zeppelin, composes for the Mondriaan Kwartet 'Maastricht Time', for string quartet and trombone, which is premiered that year. The premiere of John Cage’s 'Five 3', for string quartet and trombone, is performed at the same concert. Cage completes this commission shortly before his death in 1991.


As music for the opening of a major Mondriaan exposition in The Hague, the Mondriaan Kwartet can offer the “ultimate commission”. They want to premiere a prestigious composition and ultimately ask Iannis Xenakis for a piece. 'Ergma', for string quartet, is a typical, impenetrable Xenakis work, and the quartet immediately records it on a CD to be given out at the opening. In an informal chat with the musicians, Queen Beatrix calls it a “horrible piece”. The quartet works with the composer Guus Janssen and librettist Friso Haverkamp on the opera 'Noach'.


The Mondriaan Kwartet performs at the Crossing Borders Festival in The Hague with Van Dyke Parks and Brian Wilson, the driving force behind The Beach Boys. It participates in the theatre debut of the composer, author and musicologist Elmer Schönberger, whose 'Kwartetten' [Quartets] is a theatre piece about the relationships in a string quartet. The Mondriaan Kwartet provides the music, and Toneelgroep Amsterdam the actors.

Elmer Schönberger

1998 - 1999

Following the advice of the musicologist Gert Jan Blom, the Mondriaan Kwartet looks for music by the forgotten Spanish composer Jesús García Leoz (1904-1953). In 1998, they find the 'First String Quartet' by this student of Joaquin Turina. They premiere the piece on February 4, 1999, and it has since remained in their repertoire.

Gert-Jan Blom


The Mondriaan Kwartet celebrates its 20th anniversary. At the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, they perform The 'Girlssss Collection' (2000-2002), written for them by Chiel Meijering, and they release on CD a collection of brief string quartets based on icons of pop music. After a successful performance of 'Black Angels' by George Crumb, they buy a set of electric stringed instruments.

Chiel Meijering


On the invitation of the English Contemporary Music Network, the Mondriaan Kwartet tours England for six days. Drawing attention during this tour is a new work by John de Simone, 'Deus ex Machina'. The piece is for string quartet and octachord, an acoustic instrument designed by Robert Pravda that has eight long strings which are made to vibrate by an electric motor. In collaboration with Orkater, the Mondriaan Kwartet participates in the production of 'Over de Duivel en de Dood' [On the Devil and Death] – a theatre concert with music by Chiel Meijering and others – during the Orkater Weeks at the Nieuwe de la Mar Theater in Amsterdam. At the Théâtre Vidy in Lausanne, Switzerland, the quartet performs in April with the actor André Wilms in the premiere of 'Eraritjaritjaka', a new music theatre piece by Heiner Goebbels based on texts by Elias Canetti. The work tours the world and has more than a hundred performances. The Mondriaan Kwartet receives the Herald Angel Award in Edinburgh.



The American researchers Nancy A. Lynch and Persi Diaconis receive the 2006 Van Wijngaarden Award. The award, initiated to mark the 60-year existence of the Centrum voor Wiskunde en Infomatica (CWI) in Amsterdam. During the award presentation, the Mondriaan Kwartet performs the 'String Quartet No. 1 in C major', composed in 1968 by a computer.


For its 25th anniversay, the Mondriaan Kwartet gives two concerts at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam. Using electric stringed instruments, they perform a programme, named Electricity, of new works by Huba de Graaff and David Dramm and 'Black Angels' by George Crumb. The quartet brings out a photo-filled anniversary book and a CD.

David Dramm Huba de Graaff


The Mondriaan Kwartet performs in the opera 'El Gato con Botas' by the Spanish composer Xavier Montsalvatge. The Opera Trionfo production is directed by the German director Susanne Knapp.

2010 - 2011

The Mondriaan Kwartet prepares for Red, Yellow & Boogie Woogie, a quartet programme that traces the musical tastes of its namesake, Piet Mondriaan. The work is premiered in 2011. For the programme, Guus Janssen composes 'Blue, Yellow and Red Notes', for string quartet and piano, with projections of the painting Victory Boogie Woogie.

Discography Mondriaan Kwartet

In the discography you will find all recordings that have been released listed chronologically. We restrict ourselves to the title, the type of audio, year of publication or recording, label, list of guest musicians, plus any comments on the issue.

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