Horovitz composed this work during February and March 1969 as a tribute to E. H. Gombrich on his 60th birthday.
In this one-movement quartet the opening thematic material is deliberately based on the decadent chromatic gestures prevalent in early twentieth century Viennese music. Healthier diatonic discords tear into these themes during a long development section, and, in a way, finally cleanse them.
The melodies of the first section are entirely based on the intervals of the third and sixth, but with garish appendages of extra chromaticism (produced by means of bi-tonality between the upper and lower instruments). After the conflict these intervals emerge in their true and elemental role as essential pillars of a major key.