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Piano quintet: Description

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A piano quintet is a chamber musical ensemble comprising one piano and four other instruments, or music composed for or played by such a group. In European classical music, the piano quintet most commonly consists of one piano, two violins, a viola, and a cello—that is, a piano with a string quartet.


Classical and Early Romantic Periods

The combination of piano and four strings first arose during the Classical period, when piano concertos were sometimes performed by piano with string quartet (two violins, a viola, and a cello) accompaniment. [1] However, Classical and early Romantic chamber music was rarely composed for this combination of instruments. More commonly, chamber works for piano quintet, such as the piano quintets of Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1802), Franz Schubert (The Trout, 1819), and Louise Farrenc (1839, 1840), were composed for the grouping of piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass.[2] [3]

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven each composed a quintet for piano, oboe, clarinet, horn, and bassoon. These are more often referred to as "quintets for piano and winds" so as to distinguish them from compositions for piano and four strings.

Schumann and the Later Romantic Period

By the middle of the Romantic period, piano quintets combining a piano with a string quartet emerged as an important form of musical expression. Robert Schumann's Piano Quintet (1842), although not strictly the first chamber work written for this combination of instruments,[4] was immediately popular and widely imitated, virtually creating "a new genre, with a specific aura of Romanticism." [5] The piano quintets of Franz Berwald (1853, 1857), Joachim Raff (1862), Johannes Brahms (1864), César Franck (1882), and Antonín Dvořák (No. 2, 1887) fostered the dominance of Schumann's model.[4] Hermann Goetz's piano quintet (1874), however, is scored for the old-fashioned combination of piano, violin, viola, cello and double-bass.

Twentieth Century

In the twentieth-century, notable piano quintets along the lines of the Schumann model were produced by composers with strong connections to the Romantic idiom, including Gabriel Fauré (1905, 1921), Edward Elgar (1918) and Dmitri Shostakovich (1940).

Other composers of piano quintets have experimented with novel combinations of instruments. George Rochberg's piano quintet (1975) calls for the conventional combination piano and string quartet, but his Electrikaleidoscope (1972) is scored for flute, clarinet, violin, cello & piano/electric piano.[6]

List of Compositions for Piano Quintet

The following is a partial list of compositions for piano quintet. All works are scored for for piano and string quartet unless otherwise noted.

See also

Further reading

  • Basil Smallman (1994) The Piano Quartet and Quintet: Style Structure, and Scoring, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-816640-0.

External Links

Public Domain Piano Quintet Scores from IMSLP


  1. ^ Randel, Don Michael, The Harvard Dictionary of Music, p. 699.
  2. ^ Smallman, Basil The Piano Quartet and Quintet: Style, Structure, and Scoring , p. 3.
  3. ^ Smallman, Basil The Piano Quartet and Quintet: Style, Structure, and Scoring , p. 26.
  4. ^ a b Ostwald, Peter F. Schumann: The Inner Voices of a Musical Genius., p. 174
  5. ^ Smallman, Basil The Piano Quartet and Quintet: Style, Structure, and Scoring, p. 53.
  6. ^ George_Rochberg#Chamber George Rochberg
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b "Bacewicz Worklist". Polish Music Information Center. 1998-2003. Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Goldmark Quintets". Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  12. ^ Alan Rawsthorne: A Bio-Bibliography at Google Books. p. 33.
  13. ^ Rochberg, George; Gene Rochberg. Five Lines, Four Spaces: The World of My Music at Google Books. p. 111.
  14. ^ "Description Page - Sgambati First Piano Quintet". Edition Silvertrust. Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  15. ^ "Description Page - Stanford Piano Quintet". Edition Silvertrust. Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  16. ^ "Description of Disc with Both of Thuille's Quintets". Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  17. ^ "Description Page - Thuille Piano Quintet in E flat". Edition Silvertrust. Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  18. ^ IMSLP

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Piano quintet". Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.

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