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The Quartet was founded in 1974 by Irvine Arditti with Levine Andrade, Lennox Mackenzie and John Senter while all were students at the Royal Academy of Music. They modeled themselves on the La Salle Quartet of the United States, focused at first on the LaSalle repertoire, with the aim of supporting composers, playing the pieces as they want them played. Very soon the size of their repertoire went way beyond what the LaSalle achieved or in fact any other group in the history of classical music.
The Quartet´s first concert was in September 1974, with the works of Krzysztof Penderecki, who was at the Royal Academy to receive an honorary degree. This gave the group a chance to collaborate with the composer, something they continue to do with composers ever since. The quartet was named after Arditti because they needed a name in 24 hours, so they used his with the idea that it would be temporary, but the name stuck.
In their early years, before the end of the '70's, the ensemble performed and recorded all the quartets of Hans Werner Henze and Gyorgy Ligeti. They also began performing live on BBC. They commissioned their first piece in 1977, Jonathan Harvey's String Quartet No. 1.
The group continued to have success touring and recording in Europe but it was not until the success of Kronos Quartet that the ensemble came to the attention of US and Canadian audiences, with a tour in the late 1980s.
Over more than four decades of its existence, the only founder member that remains is its leader Irvine Arditti.
For the 40th anniversary of the quartet in 2014, one of the celebrations in London included a three-concert-in-one-day event, with works by fifteen different composers with whom their leader Arditti has been particularly closely associated, as well as the world premier or several new works. Wikipedia