The world's largest string quartet festival.
In 2018, the String Quartet Biennale Amsterdam became reality. Nowhere in the world such a large and international festival for string quartet existed. With over sixty concerts, a diverse fringe programme and a mission to share, celebrate and renew string quartet in all its richness and beauty.
In just two editions the festival grew into something that was unimaginable when we first started. With over 14.000 visitors, the festival became an international meeting hub where we can fully immerse ourselves in string quartet once every two years. Seasoned string quartet enthusiasts, eager and curious listeners who want to discover the genre and the musicians themselves: together we celebrate and discover that which makes string quartet so special: limitless possibilities, perfection and intimacy.
Bringing together so many people from all over the world, all those cultures and generations, allows for an unprecedented exchange — there’s room not only for the renowned household names, but for a young and exciting generation as well; not only for the known repertoire but for experiment as well.
Not only during the festival, but also during the two years in between, the String Quartet Biennale is actively involved in spreading the genre of string quartet. Among other things, we work together with the Leerorkest and language schools to bring string quartet to those places where it wouldn’t naturally find its way.
In 2020 the succes of the festival was repeated and now the String Quartet Biennale Amsterdam is a fixed event on the worldwide cultural calendar, to which we can look forward and dream about.
Care to help us realise the festival? Read about the many ways in which you can contribute to the Biennale:
Mission & Vision
We hold the view that the string quartet exists for everybody to enjoy, regardless of identity or background. The String Quartet Biennale Amsterdam has the goal of inspiring as large and diverse a public as possible to experience and become acquainted with the string quartet in all its facets.
Held every two years, our large-scale international festival gives musicians, devotees and curious newcomers the opportunity to experience the string quartet as a contemporary and vital art form. We do not limit our vision to the genre’s rich past, but give a prominent place to current developments, crossovers and innovation. In this way we give space to the rich breadth of the string quartet repertoire, featuring a diverse, world-class line-up and developing non-traditional forms of presentation. In this context crucial aspects include scouting, presenting and developing young talent both at home and abroad, commissioning new compositions and creating opportunities for collaborations with makers from other disciplines. In all that we do, we strive to achieve the greatest possible diversity.
“First of all, the beauty of the music, the inexhaustible amount of fantastic repertoire. In addition, the fixed form of those four voices in which everything seems possible; you’re familiar with it, but still it is different every time. In the familiar you always discover something unexpected, a new turn, a new colour. The more you listen, the more beautiful it becomes – as it should be with true love.”
“Many people seem to believe you can only really appreciate string quartet at a later age. That’s not true at all. I know from experience that you can appreciate the beauty and richness of string quartet even as a child. The endless world those four instruments in a string quartet together can create offers a special kind of magic; one of always being able to return to where my deepest musical experience lies.”
Robin de Bruijn
“From kitsch to art; from philosophical reflections of importance to entire humanity to the most personal kind of emotions. How the players look at each other or how they don’t; how they move and merge – or not. That combination of the human and the superhuman. All of that intense experience, but in a festival; where you can experience and discover string quartet in your own way – with lots of good wine and amazing food.”
“For me, the string quartet is deeply linked to my childhood: as a child of a string quartet player, I heard almost all the repertoire at home. The combination of those four instruments together is instantly recognisable, which is why it feels like coming home. The chemistry between the four players makes it extra special, almost self-evident. But at the same time it’s the most difficult thing – four people functioning as one being.”
Dries van Ingen (chairman)
Michael Kembel (treasurer)
Diana van Everdingen (secretary)
STRING QUARTET BIENNALE FOUNDATION BOARD
Riemke thoe Schwartzenberg-Manger Cats (chairwoman)
Jeffrey Prins (treasurer)
Erika Marseille (secretary)
Michiel van Asbeck
Anne Christin Erbe
The board receives no compensation.
Artistic Ambassadors and Advisors
Dieuwertje Blok (radio and television maker)
Isabel Charisius (former member Alban Berg Quartett)
Liza Ferschtman (violinist)
Andreas Grütter (bowmaker)
Emmanuel Hondré (programmer La Philharmonie)
Francis Humphrys (artistic director West Cork Chamber Music Festival)
Stefan Metz (founder Nederlandse Strijkkwartet Academie)
Barry Shiffman (director Banff International String Quartet Competition)
Marco de Souza (founder Leerorkest)
Alasdair Tait (directeur YCAT)
Sven Arne Tepl (director directeur Residentie Orkest)
Mirjam Wijzenbeek (programmer kamermuziek Het Concertgebouw)
Sam Wigglesworth (Performance Music Director Faber Music)
The beating festival heart of the String Quartet Biennale. For eight days, the Muziekgebouw is all about string quartet. In its open space, spectacular architecture and great acoustics of the you can almost literally immerse yourself in the string quartet - with an incredible view of the IJ river.
Mövenpick Hotel Amsterdam City Centre
If the Muziekgebouw is the heart of the festival, then the Mövenpick Hotel is this edition's festival home. All musicians sleep, drink and eat together in the Mövenpick - the direct neighbours of the Muziekgebouw.
That makes the Mövenpick Hotel also the place to be for festival visitors; what’s better than sleeping and having breakfast among the musicians before watching them on stage? From the hotel lobby to the entrance of the Muziekgebouw is roughly 50 steps: you couldn't be any closer to the stage!
Quite a few programmes of the third edition will take place in the Bimhuis. The intimate and relaxed setting of the Bimhuis offers a seamless shared experience between audience and performers. And the best thing is: the entrance of the Bimhuis is within the Muziekgebouw - you won't even have to put on your coat.
Covid safety measures
Where does the festival take place?
Accessibility during the festival and on our website.
It's important to us that our website can be experienced and enjoyed in the best possible way by our audience. We are working hard to ensure that our website is accessible to all. There are some changes you can make to your computer to make any website, including ours, easier use on your computer, mobile phone, or tablet.
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Where can I stay during the festival?
How do I get to the Muziekgebouw?
From Amsterdam Central Station you can take trams, metro's, buses and trains to almost anywhere.