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See D. F. Tovey, Essays in Musical Analysis: Chamber Music (1944, repr. 1989); W. W. Cobbett, ed., Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music (3 vol., 2d ed. 1963, repr. 1987); H. E. Ulrich, Chamber Music (2d ed. 1966); M. Berger, Guide to Chamber Music (1985); J. M. Keller, Chamber Music: A Listener's Guide (2010).
a specific type of music differing from that performed in theaters and concert halls; chamber works are designed to be performed in small halls and for domestic or “room” use (hence the name). Compositions of this type are written for small instrumental groups (from a single soloist to a chamber ensemble). The music is characterized by economy and subtle and detailed expressive effects; it has great potential for conveying lyrical emotions and spiritual nuances. Chamber music originated in the Middle Ages. Until the end of the 16th century the term was applied only to vocal genres; in the 17th century it was extended to instrumental music as well. In the 16th—18th centuries the term “chamber music” gradually came to mean secular music as opposed to church music (chamber sonata versus church sonata).
The modern forms of the instrumental chamber ensemble— sonata, trio, quartet, quintet, and so on—developed in the works of the Viennese classicists Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, who created profound and perfectly formed models. With its rich expressive possibilities, the instrumental ensemble (especially the string quartet) attracted the attention of nearly every composer; it reflected all the basic trends of music of the 18th-20th centuries. The romantics (Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann) and later composers (Brahms, Dvorak) paid tribute to it. High artistry distinguishes the chamber music of such Russian composers as Tchaikovsky, Borodin, and Glazunov, whose traditions have been carried on by the Soviet composers N. Ia. Miaskovskii, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich.
Vocal chamber music was prominent in the late 18th century and particularly in the 19th. Schubert, Schumann, and other romantic composers created the art song, a new genre with great expressive possibilities. The art song was richly developed in Russia by M. I. Glinka, A. S. Dargomyzhskii, Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Rachmanin off. The genre of instrumental miniatures (character pieces, pieces in dance forms) also acquired great importance in that period.
Chamber-music concerts were given, mostly in small concert halls, in the 19th century, leading to the formation of societies of lovers of chamber music and numerous performing chamber ensembles.
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L. N. RAABEN