EARLY BEGINNINGS IN ENGLAND AND ABROAD
THE most admirable recent definition of the term "chamber music" is that which describes it as the music of friends. Though much of it is now performed in public, it is essentially the music of those who come together to make music for themselves, as distinct from those who gather at concerts to have music made for them. Soloists rarely play or sing to themselves, except for study or practice, and even an amateur orchestra comes together with the view of eventually performing to an audience, but the true devotees of chamber music have no need of an audience for the enjoyment of their pursuit. They find it in the interplay of individualities, in the dovetailing of their individual contributions to the whole. They meet as friends and admit a few friends to their intimacy. That is the real spirit of chamber music, by this it was animated during a great part of its history, and this still inspires countless private societies in which it is cultivated for the sheer joy of performing it.
The public concert is a comparatively modern institution. In Italy, where the term "musica da camera" originated at the time of the Renaissance, it was used to indicate the music provided at princely houses, as distinct from that intended for the Church, or, in later times, for the stage. Though the hospitality of such houses might extend to a multitude of guests, the performances were, in their essence, private, as distinct from public performances given elsewhere. When the practice extended to Germany, the distinction was further narrowed. A reigning house--and there were many in those days-- might distinguish between Hofmusik (court music) and Kammer. musik (chamber music), the latter being for the delectation of the
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Publication information: Book title: A Musical Companion:A Guide to the Understanding and Enjoyment of Music. Contributors: John Erskine - Editor. Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1935. Page number: 343.
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