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The Charm of Chamber Music
What do you know about chamber music? Find out in this informative quiz.

The Charm of Chamber Music

While many of us love the pageantry of a great musical occasion ~ such as an oratorio, concerto or symphony concert ~ the intimacy of chamber music, played perhaps by a string quartet, has charms and powers of its own. How familiar are you with the art in such smaller forms?

A great German author, of the early period when the String Quartet was emerging as a classic form, wrote of this medium that it was 'four rational people conversing'. Who was he?
Heinrich Heine
Friedrich Schiller
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Georg Buechner
This was the great Goethe, known by and turned to by so many composers and other active musicians of the 'first Viennese school'
Who was 'the father of the symphony' and also of the String Quartet?
Ludwig van Beethoven
Franz Josef Haydn
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Franz Schubert
This genial, long-lived and well-travelled musician probably did more than anyone else to change and shape the development of classical music as we know it
The musical style in which the genesis of string quartets (and chamber music, more generally) took place is usually known as ...
The Baroque
The Classical
The Galant
The Romantic
Simplicity of texture (less baroque-style counterpoint, more 'conversation') was a prime aim in compositions of this time and nature
Franz Schubert wrote a fine Piano Quintet in which he recycled the theme from one of his own favourite Lieder as the basis for a set of variations in one of the middle movements of the work. The whole quintet (his D.667 in A major, written in 1819 when the composer was just 22 years old), is usually nicknamed from the title of the song, which was ... ?
Death and the Maiden
A Winter's Journey (Winterreise)
The Erl-King
The Trout
The original, distinctly folksy melody carries a short narrative poem about a fisherman
The 18th century saw chamber music establishing and developing itself in technical, administrative and artistic ways. Which of these factors would you dismiss as being the LEAST significant?
The political decline of aristocracy and patronage, in an age of enlightenment and revolution
Technical developments, producing richer tones in stringed and other instruments
Enhancements in the construction and capability of the bow (for string players)
Enhancements in the manufacture, range and tone of pianofortes (in several cases due to progress in the Industrial Revolution, generally)
Answer 3 may seem the most specific or trivial, though players of the instruments concerned might well disagree. All the other factors listed were undoubtedly significant, socially or structurally, in the emergence of such music
In March 1824 Schubert composed his wonderful Octet for a mixed ensemble of ~ obviously ~ eight players. Four of these are on the already-standard String Quartet instruments (2 violins, viola and cello); which is the correct list of the other four?
Double-bass, clarinet, horn, bassoon
Double-bass, oboe, bassoon and clarinet
Bassoon, clarinet, oboe and flute
Bassoon, oboe, flute and harp
The Scherxo movement, in particular, is a wonderful rollicking piece practically guaranteed to lift anyone's spirits; but there are tender moments elsewhere and the whole, 'landmark' work is very highly recommended listening
The 19th century saw (and heard!) the 'democratisation' of music, with the rise of amateur performance by those who could, at least, afford instruments, tuition and copies of the material to play. But there were also virtuoso professional solo 'recitalists' such as the very man who coined this usage of the word. Who was he?
Franz Liszt, the composer-pianist
Frederic Chopin, the composer-pianist
Joseph Joachim, the quartet leader
George Onslow, the aristocratically-descended Anglo-French string composer
'Recital' somehow seems a strange usage, but we seem to be stuck with it. Liszt himself was a virtuoso exponent not only of his instrument and his own and others' music, but also on the showmanship side (many, it is said, were the ladies who came to swoon)
Who was the Central-European composer who, following a lead from Dvorak, brought folk music across into the classical intimacy of the string quartet, including writing a movement in the folk time-signature of 10/8 (subdivided as 3 + 2 + 2 + 3)?
Zoltan Kodaly
Bela Bartok
Bedrich Smetana
Carl Czerny
The music of his native Hungary is seldom far from the surface in Bartok's work
Charles Gounod, probably better remembered for his opera Faust, wrote a delightful Petite Symphonie which clearly belongs within the field of Chamber Music. How many musicians are involved in a performance of this ensemble?
9 musicians
10 musicians
12 musicians
14 musicians
Only nine instruments are required for this work of 1885. It is a charming item for an outdoor summer evening concert as well as indoor performances (your present author memorably first encountered it at such a concert in the mediaeval cloisters of New College, Oxford on a summer's evening that also happened to be his birthday, which sticks very felicitously in the mind!)
As this suite of Quizzes is written in the early summer of 2014, with the Great War Centenary much on the minds of cultured people worldwide, it would be nigh-on impossible to avoid mention of the Emperor Quartet, so called from the noble theme in its second movement which became the national anthem of Austria-Hungary (1797-1918) and shortly thereafter, with fresh words, of Germany (1922- ). Its German-speaking composer had enjoyed a stay in Britain, and, in an age when revolution had wracked France and her institutions, he felt his home nation/s should have something of equivalent dignity to our own National Anthem.
Who was he?
Papa Haydn
We have come full-circle to Haydn, who was the begetter of the quartet as such. Interestingly, when Noel Coward was looking to write a morale-boosting song for Londoners under the (German!) Blitz during World War 2, he 'pinched the theme back', realising Haydn had probably borrowed it in tamed form from an old street-cry ~ the precursor of the more modern commercial 'jingle' ~ in the city, to write his own very atmospheric song London Pride. There's plenty of life in a good tune, for sure!


Author:  Ian Miles

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