String quintet

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A string quintet is an ensemble of five string instrument players or a piece written for such a combination. The most common combinations in classical music are two violins, two violas and cello or two violins, viola and two cellos. The second cello is occasionally replaced by a double bass, as in Antonin Dvorak's quintet Op.77. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart pioneered writing for a string quartet augmented by a second viola, and one outstanding masterpiece for the two-cello quintet is Franz Schubert's Quintet in C major. Closely related chamber music genres include the string trio, the string quartet, and the string sextet.

By convention, the string quintet with an extra viola is called a "viola quintet" and a string quintet with an extra cello is called a "cello quintet." While a nave concert-goer might expect five violas on the stage when a "viola quintet" appears on a chamber music program, such a quintet would most likely be called a "quintet for five violas."

String quintets have been written by many composers, as can be seen from the following list. It is interesting to note that some composers who wrote well-known series of string quartets, such as Joseph Haydn, Bela Bartok, Paul Hindemith, and Dmitri Shostakovich, never composed a string quintet.

The term string quintet can also refer to the standard orchestral string section consisting of two violin, one viola, one cello, and one bass part, even though in this case there are multiple musicians playing each part.

List of string quintet composers

  • Arnold Bax - one Cello Quintet in G major (1908), whose second movement was rescored by the composer for Viola Quintet and published as the Lyrical Interlude (1923)
  • Ludwig van Beethoven - one original work for Viola Quintet, Op.29, sometimes called the Storm Quintet; an arrangement of his Wind Octet for Viola Quintet, Op.4 (the original Octet was later published as Op.103); an arrangement of his Piano Trio Op.1 No.3 for Viola Quintet, Op.104
  • Luigi Boccherini - one hundred ten Cello Quintets (!), twelve original Viola Quintets, arrangements of all twelve of his Piano Quintets (Op.56 and Op.57) for Viola Quintet, and three Double Bass Quintets. The third movement Minuet of the Cello Quintet Op.11 No.5 is extremely well-known.
  • Alexander Borodin - one Cello Quintet
  • Johannes Brahms - two Viola Quintets, Op.88 and Op.111; the Clarinet Quintet Op.115 may be performed with a viola substituting for the clarinet
  • Max Bruch - one Viola Quintet in A minor
  • Anton Bruckner - one Viola Quintet (1879)
  • Luigi Cherubini - one Viola Quintet in E minor (1837)
  • Felix Draeseke - one Quintet in A for Two Violins, Viola, Violotta, and Cello (the Stelzner-Quintett; 1897) ; one Cello Quintet in F (1901)
  • Antonin Dvorak - two Viola Quintets, Op.1 and Op.97 (the American Quintet), and a Double Bass Quintet Op.77
  • Alexander Glazunov - one Cello Quintet, Op.39
  • Karl Goldmark - one Cello Quintet, Op.9 (1862)
  • Bohuslav Martinu - one Viola Quintet (1927)
  • Felix Mendelssohn - two Viola Quintets: No. 1 in A major, Op.18 (1826, revised 1832) and No. 2 in B-flat major, Op.87 (1845)
  • Darius Milhaud - one Double Bass Quintet Op.316; one Viola Quintet Op.325; one Cello Quintet Op.350
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - six Viola Quintets: K174, K516b, K515, K516, K593, K614
  • Carl Nielsen - one Viola Quintet (1888)
  • Ottorino Respighi - one Viola Quintet (1901)
  • Franz Schubert - one Cello Quintet,, D956, and a "Quintet-Overture" for Viola Quintet, D8
  • Ethel Smyth - one Cello Quintet in E major, Op.1
  • Louis Spohr - seven Viola Quintets
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams - one Viola Quintet (the Phantasy Quintet;1912)



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