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date: 17 May 2021

Chamber music (Fr. musique de chambre; Ger. Kammermusik; It. musica da camera)locked

  • Christina Bashford


(Fr. musique de chambre; Ger. Kammermusik; It. musica da camera)

In current usage the term ‘chamber music’ generally denotes music written for small instrumental ensemble, with one player to a part, and intended for performance either in private, in a domestic environment with or without listeners, or in public in a small concert hall before an audience of limited size. In essence, the term implies intimate, carefully constructed music, written and played for its own sake; and one of the most important elements in chamber music is the social and musical pleasure for musicians of playing together. In this respect, the term has close connections with the peculiarly German concept and practice of Hausmusik, which refers to the playing of vocal or instrumental music in the home for family entertainment, without audience, and which was much encouraged in the 19th and 20th centuries. ‘Chamber music’ has also been narrowly defined (for example, by Cobbett) in terms of ensembles of specific types and sizes; but the term is best understood in a broader sense. To limit the term to instrumental ensemble repertory, for example, is to exclude such hybrid works as Schubert’s ...

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