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String quartet
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String quartet

A string quartet is a musical ensemble of four string musical instruments or a piece written to be performed by such a group.

Although any combination of four string instruments may be called a "string quartet", in practice, the term almost always refers to a group consisting of two violins (the "first" and "second" violin), one viola and one cello. This combination of instruments is widely seen as one of the most important forms in chamber music, with most major composers writing string quartets.

A piece of music for four players of stringed instruments may be in any form, but if it is simply a String Quartet (with or without a subtitle) it is usually in four movements, with a large-scale structure similar to that of a symphony.

Many other chamber groups can be seen as modifications of the string quartet, such as the piano quintet, which is a string quartet with an added piano; the string quintet, which is a string quartet with an extra viola or cello; the string trio, which is a string quartet with only one violin; and the piano quartet, a string quartet with one of the violins replaced by a piano.

Table of contents
1 History
2 List of string quartet composers
3 String quartets (ensembles)
4 External links


The form first came to be used after the middle of the 18th century. Joseph Haydn's first works for string quartet have five movements and resemble the divertimento (a title which they carried in some editions) or serenade, but the opus 9 quartets of 1769-70 are in the form which was to become standard both for Haydn and for other composers: four movements, a fast movement, a slow movement, a minuet and trio and a fast finale. Because his example helped codify a form that originated in the Baroque suite, Haydn is often referred to as "the father of the string quartet." Haydn's four movements of a string quartet, with the addition of two oboes and a bassoon, provide the simplest kind of classical symphony: Haydn is "the father of the symphony" too. Haydn occasionally played his quartets on social occasions in an impromptu quartet ensemble of which Mozart was also a member.

List of string quartet composers

Born before 1800

Born 1801-1850

Born 1851-1900

Born 1901-1950

Born 1951-

String quartets (ensembles)

For the purposes of performance, groups of string players sometimes group together to make ad hoc string quartets. Other groups continue playing together for many years, sometimes changing their members but retaining their name. Well known string quartets include:

External links