Chamber music is a form of classical music that is composed for a small group of instruments—traditionally a group that could fit in a palace chamber. Most broadly, it includes any art music that is performed by a small number of performers, with one performer to a part. The word "chamber" signifies that the music can be performed in a small room, often in a private salon with an intimate atmosphere. However, by definition it usually does not include solo instrument performances.
Because of its intimate nature, chamber music has been described as "the music of friends." For more than 200 years, chamber music was played primarily by amateur musicians in their homes, and even today, when most chamber music performance has migrated from the home to the concert hall, many musicians, amateur and professional, still play chamber music for their own pleasure. Playing chamber music requires special skills, both musical and social, that differ from the skills required for playing solo or symphonic works.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe described chamber music (specifically, string quartet music) as "four rational people conversing." This conversational paradigm has been a thread woven through the history of chamber music composition from the end of the 18th century to the present. The analogy to conversation recurs in descriptions and analyses of chamber music compositions.
Famous quotes containing the words chamber and/or music:
“The fate of the country does not depend on how you vote at the polls,the worst man is as strong as the best at that game; it does not depend on what kind of paper you drop into the ballot- box once a year, but on what kind of a man you drop from your chamber into the street every morning.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
“Thy remembrance, and repentance, and deep musings are not free
From the music of two voices and the light of one sweet smile.”
—Percy Bysshe Shelley (17921822)