Flute quartet

A flute quartet is a musical term for a type of chamber music group. They are normally found in two forms: those consisting of a flute, a violin, a viola and a cello; and those consisting of four flutes. This last combination can come in multiple different but distinct arrangements:

  • a group of four C flutes;
  • a group of three C flutes and alto flute;
  • a group consisting of two C flutes, alto, and bass flute (this grouping is the closest comparable equivalent of a string quartet for four flutes); or
  • a group consisting of piccolo, C flute, alto, and bass.

Works for flute, violin, viola and cello

This form is closely related to the string quartet, but with a flute in place of the first violin. It is generally believed that this type of chamber music reached its pinnacle around the middle of the second half of the 18th century. Notable works for flute quartets consisting of a flute, violin, viola and cello include those by the following composers:

The interest of the enthusiasts in arrangements of flute with string trio, which at times rivaled the popularity of the string quartet, is shown by contemporary transcriptions of string quartets by publishers, for instance, the quartets of Haydn. Gioachino Rossini also transcribed six of his Sonate a quattro (originally for strings).

In the first decades of the 19th century, the string quartet became far more important than the flute quartet; as a result, very few new works were composed until the 20th century. Until the works of Volkmar Andreae (quartet Op. 43) and Gottfried von Einem (quartet Op. 85), the 20th century was also somewhat lacking in compositions of this type. Works from the 21st century have included the Air and Adorable Blues by Blaž Pucihar and In blauen Linien (2012) by Graham Waterhouse.

Works for four flutes

19th century

Works for four flutes were particularly popular at the turn of the 19th century. Some of the most well-known from this time might include the compositions of Friedrich Kuhlau (quartet in E minor) and Anton Reicha (quartets Op. 12, Op. 19). Further quartets came from, for example, Friedrich Hartmann Graf, Anton Bernhard Fürstenau and Luigi Gianella.

Early 20th century

In the 20th century, quartets with four flutes experienced a renaissance. This type of arrangement, with its specific, light tone color, especially appealed to the French wind tradition. Examples of some works from the early 20th century include those of Florent Schmitt (quartet Op. 106), Josef Lauber (vision de Corse, Op. 54), Marc Berthomieu (Arcadie), Joseph Jongen (Elégie, Op. 114.3), Alexander Tcherepnin (Quatuor pour flûtes Op. 60 - 1939), and Colonial Sketches (1940) by Sol B. Cohen.

Late 20th century

The late 20th Century saw a new revival for the flute quartet, including these works:

21st century

See also

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