Cover image for The Cambridge companion to the string quartet
The Cambridge companion to the string quartet
Stowell, Robin.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2003.
Physical Description:
xv, 373 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm.
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ML1160 .C36 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This Companion offers a concise and authoritative survey of the string quartet by eleven chamber music specialists. Its fifteen carefully structured chapters provide coverage of a stimulating range of perspectives previously unavailable in one volume. It focuses on four main areas: the social and musical background to the quartet's development; the most celebrated ensembles; string quartet playing, including aspects of contemporary and historical performing practice; and the mainstream repertory, including significant 'mixed ensemble' compositions involving string quartet. Various musical and pictorial illustrations and informative appendixes, including a chronology of the most significant works, complete this indispensable guide. Written for all string quartet enthusiasts, this Companion will enrich readers' understanding of the history of the genre, the context and significance of quartets as cultural phenomena, and the musical, technical and interpretative problems of chamber music performance. It will also enhance their experience of listening to quartets in performance and on recordings.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This handsome collection of 15 essays on various aspects of string quartet history and performance aims "to provide a broad readership with a compact, authoritative survey of the string quartet in all its aspects." A book with a mission to be most things to most people could easily emerge as a book meaning nothing to anyone. This is not the case with this volume. The collection begins with essays on the social and cultural milieu that made quartets possible and the technical improvements in the instruments that both drew from and contributed to style changes in their music. The essays that follow survey distinguished professional quartets (1790-1985); offer advice on playing in a string quartet (interpretation, rehearsal strategies, intonation, becoming an ensemble, etc.); and finally treat the string quartet repertoire, focusing on particular geographical areas and times. Though neither particularly profound nor based on the most modern musical analysis, the essays have much to say and are written by recognized authorities in the field. Curiously, the essays in the last section offer no musical examples, whereas the earlier chapters include both examples and photos. ^BSumming Up: Essential. All music collections. K. Pendle emerita, University of Cincinnati

Table of Contents

Part I Social Changes and Organological Developments
1 The string quartet and societyChristina Bashford
2 Developments in instruments, bows and accessoriesRobin Stowell
Part II Celebrated Ensembles
3 From chamber to concert hallTully Potter
4 The concert explosion and the age of recordingTully Potter
Part III Playing String Quartets
5 Playing quartets: a view from the insideDavid Waterman
6 Historical awareness in quartet performanceSimon Standage
7 Extending the technical and expressive frontiersRobin Stowell
Part IV The String Quartet Repertory
8 The origins of the quartetDavid Wyn Jones
9 The Classical style: Haydn, Mozart and their contemporariesW. Dean Sutcliffe
10 Beethoven and the Viennese legacyDavid Wyn Jones
11 The Austro-Germanic quartet tradition in the nineteenth centuryStephen E. Hefling
12 Traditional and progressive nineteenth-century trends: France, Italy, Great Britain and AmericaRobin Stowell
13 Nineteenth-century national traditions and the string quartetJan Smaczny
14 The string quartet in the twentieth centuryKenneth Gloag
15 The string quartet as a foundation for larger ensemblesColin Lawson