The Art-Forms of Music, Letters: Q-R

  Article Tools

Print This Page

E-mail This Page To A Friend


A concerted composition for four voices or instruments, in which all the parts are real, i.e. no one can be omitted without injuring the proper effect of the whole. As early as the fifteenth century four-part writing had been recognized as the kind most suitable for combining harmonic fullness and clearness with ease of execution. Since then it has been regarded as the groundwork of all composition. During the seventeenth century, however, the tendency was toward the employment of large masses in double and triple choruses (Schools of Rome and Venice. But during the eighteenth century the development of the string quartet led to a return to four-part writing. In the nineteenth century Mendelssohn and Schumann did much to popularize the male quartet. One of the highest forms of modern music is that written for the string quartet, which consists of two violins, viola, and cello. Although this combination of instruments was established by Monteverde as the foundation of his orchestra, no music was written for it until a century and a half later, when Haydn recognized the  possibilities of this group of instruments.

Haydn is the father of the symphony. He took the sonata form and in 1755 wrote a miniature symphony for the string quartet. Although this first quartet is very crude, Haydn soon acquired mastery of the form. He wrote in all 83 quartets. Mozart, who greatly developed the quartet, did not, like Haydn, regard it as a miniature symphony to express only miniature ideas. Some of the boldest effects in Mozart's works are found in his quartets. During the lifetime of Haydn and Mozart the quartet was assiduously cultivated by lesser composers, such as Gossee, Gretry, Sammartini, Romberg, Ries, Onslow and others. They were succeeded by the unrivaled master of the string quartet, Beethoven. The first violin no longer had the principal melody; he placed all four instruments on a footing of absolute independence. he wrote only 16 quartets, but in these monumental works all the possibilities of the form are exhausted. Schubert wrote 20 quartets which are scarcely inferior to those of his predecessor either in profound ideas or mastery of technical workmanship. While Beethoven occasionally allows one or two instruments to rest (producing a certain thinness of tone), Schubert keeps every instrument at work from beginning to end. Schumann wrote only three quartets (op.41), but they can be ranked with those of Beethoven and Schubert. Spohr wrote 33 quartets and four double quartets. His quartets are more like those of Haydn and Mozart; the independence of the several instruments is sacrificed to the predominance of melody in the first violin. The same is true of Mendelssohn's quartets. The second violin and viola too frequently have only filling-up work, like tremolo, etc. Another master is Brahms, whose quartets agree written entirely on the lines of his great predecessors. Some of the most important quartet organizations, with their original members, are: The Florentine, Becker, Masi, Chiostri, Hilpert; the Hellmesberger, Georg, Joseph, Joseph, Jr., and Ferdinand Hellmesberger; the Schuppanzigh, Schuppanzigh, Sina, Weiss, Kraft; the Joachim, Joachim, De Ahna, Wirth, Hausmann; the Kneisel, Kneisel, Roth, Svecenski, Schroeder; the Bohemian Quartet, Hoffman, Suk, Nedbal, Wihom; the Brodsky Quartet, Brodsky, Becker, Sitt, Klengel.


A species of vocal composition which differs from an air in having no definite rhythmical arrangement, and no decided or strictly constructed melody, but approaches, in tonal succession and rhythm, to the declamatory accents of language; it is, in fact, as near an approach as possible to speech delivered in musical sounds. When any part of a recitative is to be performed in strict time, this is indicated by the words rec. a tempo. When a recitative is accompanied merely by a few simple chords of an instrument it is called recitativo secco or parlante, declaimed recitative. When the voice is accompanied by a considerable portion of the instruments of the orchestra, either in sustained chords or florid passages, it is termed recitativo accompagnato, stromentato, or obbligato. See LEITMOTIV.


In the Roman Catholic Church, the mass for the dead; so called from the first word of the introit. Requiem masses were composed by many of the older masters, such as Palestrina, Vittoria, Amerio, Colonna. The most famous works of this kind in modern times are those of Mozart (1791); two of Cherubini, C Minor (1793), D Minor (1836); Berlioz (1837); Verdi (1873). One of the greatest choral works ever written bears also the title requiem, although it is written to German words selected from the Bible. This is the great Ein deutsches Requiem by Brahms, written on the death of his mother (1868).


A term in modern music, applied to an instrumental composition written in the form of a fantasia usually upon folk-songs or national melodies. The rhapsodies of Raff and Lalo, and especially the Hungarian rhapsodies of Liszt, have become famous.


one of the oldest and most generally used of the musical forms, characterized by the constant recurrence of one principal theme. The oldest rondos of the sixteenth century consisted of a plain theme of four bars, which was followed by a few bars of interlude, when the original theme was repeated. Soon the theme itself was lengthened to eight or sixteen bars, and the interlude avoided the principal key. Then the intermediate passage appeared as a fully developed second theme in a related key. The fundamental idea of the rondo as established by Beethoven is (denoting the three themes by A, B, C respectively): A, B (in key of dominant), A, C, A, B (in key of tonic), coda. On its second and third recurrence. A appears in different keys. Also, in order to avoid monotony, Beethoven does not repeat literally. When only two themes are employed the following may be given as the fundamental schedule: A, B, A (in key of B), B (in key of A), A. Under later composers (notably Chopin) the rondo form becomes even more elastic.


Website: The History
Article Name: The Art-Forms of Music Letter: Q-R
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: From my Collection of Books: The New International Encyclopedia; 1902-1905 Dodd, Mead and Company-New York Total of 21 Volumes
Time & Date Stamp: