chapter  3
28 Pages

String quartet types: toward a reconsideration

Music of the late-eighteenth century still functioned in court life, but it was also a basic part of the middle class. Royalty was no longer the chief patron and commissioner of music. The term Hausmusik, when linked to the string quartet, designates music intended for everyday use and for performance by musicians possessing a wide range of technical and interpretive skills. More popular than the Hausmusik type was the quatuor concertant. In Vienna, the breakdown of older patronage system forced composers to work independently of the court. Hickman notes that within the Viennese repertoire one can find three types of quartets existing side by side: the quatuor concertant, the quatuor brillant, and the Viennese classical quartet. Publishing houses and public concerts became important venues for both the aspiring and established musician. Thus the string quartet of the late-eighteenth century with its intensity, virtuosity, and orchestral-like gestures produced a far different effect than the intimate chamber style common since the 1760s.