PORTLAND – The Leipzig String Quartet, widely acclaimed as one of the most exciting string quartets on the international chamber music scene, will perform Feb. 22 at Merrill Auditorium, courtesy of PCA Great Performances.

The ensemble will present a program of music composed by Beethoven at 7 p.m., with a free “About the Music” discussion after the concert. Audience members are urged to attend a “Beethoven’s Influence on Western Classical Music” presentation backstage at 6 p.m.

Three members of the quartet, founded in 1988, were first chairs in the famous Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig. After studies with Gerhard Bosse, the Amadeus quartet, Hatto Beyerle and Walter Levin, the quartet went on to win numerous prizes and awards, such as the 1991 International ARD Munich competition, and the Busch and Siemens prizes.

Today, the Leipzig String Quartet performs extensively throughout Europe, in Israel, Africa, Central and South America, Australia, Japan and Asia, including appearances at many of the major festivals. In North America, engagements include appearances at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, at Carnegie Hall’s quartet series in Weill Recital Hall, the Library of Congress, and chamber music series in Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Los Angeles, Montreal and Quebec.

Often offering its own thematic cycles (Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, the contemporaries), the quartet was also one of the initiators of the 1996 and 1997 Beethoven Quartet Cycle offered jointly with five other quartets as a sign of European friendship in more than 15 European cities.

The quartet’s more than 50 recordings, spanning from Mozart to Cage and including the complete works of Brahms, Mozart, Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Schubert and the complete Second Viennese School, have been met with international critical acclaim. They have brought the group such recognition as the Diapason d’Or and Premios-CD-Compact awards, two nominations for the Cannes Classical Award and the 1999, 2000 and 2003 Echo-Klassik awards.

Their recording of the complete Schubert quartet literature, a first, is considered by many to be the most important release for the Schubert year 1997.

Go and listen

WHO: Leipzig String Quartet

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22

WHERE: Merrill Auditorium, Portland