This article is over 9 years old

Chamber Music

Houston Public Media’s Top 10 Chamber Music Composers

For National Chamber Music Month: A list of the most influential composers and some of their works.


Corelli – He wrote the most well-known trio sonatas, which was a popular musical form in the 17th and 18th centuries. Written for two melodic instruments and basso continuo, this became one of the first popular forms of chamber music.


Bach – He composed chamber works for a large variety of instruments. Many of his important works don’t specify instrumentation, leaving room for experimenting with combinations. He is also known as the master of melody and harmony.


Haydn – He created the string quartet, which quickly became one of the most popular chamber music mediums. He also created the overall form and structure for chamber music compositions. He is often referred to as the “Father of the String Quartet.”


Mozart – Also well-known for his string quartets, he liked to experiment with instrumentation in the large number of chamber works he composed. For example, he added the clarinet, a new instrument in his day, to his compositions.


Beethoven – He created more difficult chamber pieces that only professional musicians could play. His final chamber compositions were so large and complex that composers who followed him felt they couldn’t create anything greater.


Schubert – He liked to experiment with extreme color and contrasts in his compositions. He often mixed the light Viennese style in his music with melancholy undertones, taken from his sad life.


Mendelssohn – He wrote cyclical chamber music works. This meant that a main theme, or melodic idea, would be present throughout all four movements. This created a sense of unity and cohesiveness in his works.  


R. Schumann – He spent the bulk of his career composing and performing chamber music. His Piano Quintet in E-flat is one of the most celebrated chamber works.


Brahms – He was focused on innovative composition techniques. His chamber works included more variations in form, development and chromaticism.


Dvorak – He’s responsible for making the piano quartet a popular chamber music medium in the Romantic Period. He also wrote many pieces of nationalistic music, including one of the most famous string quartets, the “American.”