On Radio 3 Now

In Tune

16:30 - 17:30

Sean Rafferty presents a selection of music and guests from the arts world.

Next On Air

17:30 Opera on 3

View full schedule

Music Genres
Chamber music covers works written for performance within a room as opposed to a hall, church or other public space.

  • In the area of vocal music madrigals can be considered a chamber form.
  • With the growth in the development of instrumental playing during the Baroque period, the trio sonata arose as a major form. Contrary to the implications of its name, four players were actually required: two violins with continuo (usually harpsichord and cello) formed the regular line-up. Arcangelo Corelli was a notable exponent of the genre.
  • In the Classical period the string quartet rose to prominence with the works of Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart . The participants were two violins, viola and cello, and the regular format consisted of four movements with the first in sonata form. Later Ludwig van Beethoven , Franz Schubert and Johannes Brahms continued the tradition, with important twentieth-century examples coming from Béla Bartók , Arnold Schoenberg, Dmitri Shostakovich and Benjamin Britten .
  • Side by side with the string quartet developed the piano trio , for piano, violin and cello. Here again the names of Haydn , Mozart , Schubert and Brahms are important. Other instruments might replace the violin, as in examples by Beethoven and Brahms for clarinet, cello and piano, or the cello, as in Brahms's Trio for horn, violin and piano.
  • Less frequently exploited were the possibilities of the string trio (violin, viola, cello), though there are examples by Haydn , Beethoven and Schubert, and later by Schoenberg and his pupil Anton Webern. 

    Such combinations as the piano quartet (usually violin, viola, cello and piano), the piano quintet (usually string quartet plus piano), the string quintet and the string sextet increase the range. Many other combinations of instruments are possible, though the number of players involved reaches to no more than eight (as in Octets by Felix Mendelssohn and Schubert ) or nine (as in the nonet).

Guide to Classical Music
Related Links
on radio 3
on bbc.co.uk
on the web
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.