Of the more than 300 works in the repertory of the Silesian Quartet, about two-thirds have been written by contemporary or 20th century composers. From its earliest years, the quartet acted as vigorous champions of new music, regularly premiering compositions, often ones specifically written for them. One might characterize them as a youthful or adventurous quartet both in outlook and in their vital and spirited performances. Yet they have also been able to embrace tradition with a similar effectiveness, offering compelling interpretations of works by J.S. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Dvorák, Tchaikovsky, and early 20th century composers like, Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich. The Silesian Quartet has concertized throughout Europe, North and Central America, Israel, Japan, China, and other parts of the globe. Its discography is considerable and spread over many labels, including CPO, Olympia, Wergo, MMC, Polskie Radio Katowice, and others.
The Silesian String Quartet was formed in 1978 by then-recent graduates of the Katowice-based Karol Szymanowski University of Music. The members of the SSQ are Szymon Krzeszowiec (first violin), Arkadiusz Kubica (second violin), Lukasz Syrnicki (viola), and Piotr Janosik (cello).
The group immediately drew notice, especially from composers: Andrzej Krzanowski dedicated his 1978 Second String Quartet to it, and the SSQ eventually recorded the work (1990; Polskie Radio Katowice) and still plays the piece, as well as many others by Krzanowski.
The SSQ was awarded prizes at the 1979 Crakow-based Contemporary Music Competition and at the 1981 Poznan Music Spring festival. In the coming years the ensemble would achieve much acclaim at home for its performances of chamber works by Górecki and numerous other Polish composers. In 1988 it was given the Katowice Province Governor's Artistic Award, and in 1990s garnered a string of honors, including two Fryderyk Awards (1996 and 1998) for recordings of works by Górecki, Lutoslawski, Szymanowski, and others.
Tours became more frequent and took the group to the most prestigious concert venues, like Carnegie Hall and London's Wigmore Hall. The SSQ won its third Fryderyk Award in 2005, and from that year the quartet has performed under the patronage of the Self-Government of the City of Gliwice (Poland) and in partnership with the Music Theater of Gliwice. Among more acclaimed recordings is a 2010 CD of the Third String Quartet and other Krzanowski works on the Polskie Radio Katowice label.