What is Chamber Music?

Chamber Music Explained

Chamber music’ usually means classical music where each player has their own separate part. In an orchestra, you might get 12 violins all playing the same ‘first violin’ part; in a chamber ensemble such as a string quartet, it’s just one per part. Common chamber music ensembles or line-ups include string quartet (violin 1, violin 2, viola, cello); piano trio (piano, violin, cello); and piano quartet (piano, violin, viola, cello). But a chamber ensemble could include any combination of violin, cello, viola, harpsichord, piano, oboe, horn, and more recently percussion and electronic instruments.

History of Chamber Music 

What did people do for fun before TV? One of the answers is that they played music and sang together, in their ‘chambers’ or rooms. So ‘chamber music’ implies something intimate, with each person taking responsibility for their own part. The magic of chamber music at its best is that the individuals merge in a seamless whole.

Chamber music is most often associated with composers from Classical, Romantic and 20th-Century periods, such as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Dvorák, Brahms, Schumann, Bartók, Webern, and on into the present. But ‘one to a part’ music can be found as early as the Mediaeval and Renaissance periods, because at its heart lies the idea that it is ‘music with friends’.

Modern Chamber Music

Chamber music will continue to evolve as composers and artists dream up new ways of exploring this most personal artform. Musica Viva is an organisation which has grown from its beginnings as a group of friends who loved to play and listen to chamber music, to become the world’s largest entrepreneur of chamber music. We tour chamber music ensembles across Australia and showcase local and international classical music talent. Performers and composers share our chamber music spotlight at Australian venues including Adelaide Town Hall, the Queensland Conservatorium Theatre, QPAC Concert Hall, Llewellyn Hall at Canberra’s ANU School of Music, Melbourne Recital Centre, Newcastle Conservatorium of Music, Perth Concert Hall, and City Recital Hall Angel Place Sydney.