String quartet

musical ensemble of four string players

A string quartet is a musical ensemble of four string players – two violin players, a viola player and a cellist – or a piece written to be performed by such a group. The string quartet is one of the most prominent chamber ensembles in classical music, with most major composers, from the mid to late 18th century onwards, writing string quartets.


  • ARE my eyes deceiving me, or is this a string quartet topping the US classical charts? Hmm, depends on whom you believe. The instruments - two violins, cello, viola - may be the same as Haydn's, but the players are four near-naked girls, gyrating to an amplified backing track.
    Bond, as the band are called, have been barred from the UK charts as inadequately classical. On the other hand, they have been booked to curtain-raise the Classical Brits awards. Make of that muddle what you will, in an industry that has lost the confidence to tell high art from low, good art from bad, real art from clone. The Bond girls are not bad players. They are simply living in a bad time for practising the intimate, introspective art of the string quartet.
  • From tentative beginnings, the string quartet has evolved for over 240 years, serving as a medium for some of the most profound and personal musical expression. At first it was a medium that allowed four gentlemen amateurs to converse musically, an aspect of its function that has retained its significance throughout the years. But this aspect has long been interconnected with a view of the genre as one that is appropriate for music of the deepest personal expression, as well as sophisticated humour and wit.
    • Robin Stowell, Preface of The Cambridge Companion to the String Quartet (2003)

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