Chamber Music: The Growth & Practice of an Intimate Art

Chamber Music: The Growth & Practice of an Intimate Art

Chamber Music: The Growth & Practice of an Intimate Art

Chamber Music: The Growth & Practice of an Intimate Art

Excerpt

This book lays no claim to being a history, nor does it pretend to be an essay in music appreciation. A history presents all the pertinent facts about the subject, uncovers principles and trends, and accounts for the phenomena it brings to light. An "appreciation," on the other hand, concentrates on a few significant works, tells its readers what to look and listen for in them, and in so doing becomes a guide to musical understanding. But while this book is neither one nor the other exclusively, it does contain elements of both. What, then, is its purpose?

No major field of musical literature is as little known as chamber music. True, certain works in the repertoire are widely performed, and many persons have heard that Haydn fathered the string quartet. In general, however, its history has remained obscure, its importance to the whole literature of music has been misunderstood, and many laymen whose contact with the field has been limited consider it highbrow. To introduce chamber music to the wider public which admires it from afar and to remove misconceptions about its quality and appear, two things are necessary: an orderly account of its evolution to the point where the contemporary concert repertoire begins and a survey of the works which form the bulk of that repertoire. Those things this book hopes to supply.

Its first seven chapters, having to do with music that is seldom heard today, are designed to introduce the principal musical events, works, and tendencies of the two centuries before 1750. Subsequent chapters, beginning with the account of Haydn, are concerned with orienting the reader in the extensive and important chamber-music literature by major composers since 1750.

Chamber music is one of the oldest of instrumental literatures.

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