String Chamber Ensembles

Since the latter half of the 18th century, numerous chamber music works have been composed for combinations of solo string instruments of the violin family. Prominent among these one-to-a-part combinations are the following, which make use of the three stringed instruments pictured below.

        String Trio:  one violin, one viola, one violoncello [clip 1]

        String Quartet:  two violins, one viola, one violoncello [clip 2]

        String Quintet:  two violins, two violas, one violoncello [clip 3]

        String Quintet:  two violins, one viola, two violoncellos [clip 4]

String chamber music is heard most often in the context of tertiary educational institutions (conservatories, schools of music, and music departments). Many such institutions will have one or more such ensembles comprised of members of their studio teaching staff, and in turn some of these studio instructors will coach student ensembles. Professional string chamber ensembles exist, either as offshoots of symphony orchestras or as independently organized groups. Many of these groups serve as resident artists at tertiary institutions while carrying on an active concertizing schedule and producing commercial recordings. A few of these ensembles attain international notoriety. 


Tilmouth, Michael, and Basil Smallman. “String trio,” in Grove Music Online. Accessed December 6 2014:

Baldassarre, Antonio, Cliff Eisen, and Paul Griffiths. “String quartet,” in Grove Music Online. Accessed December 6 2014:

Eisen, Cliff. “String quintet,” in Grove Music Online. Accessed December 6 2014:

(by Roger Vetter)




Title: Trio for Strings, Op. 45, by Arnold Schoenberg; Julliard Quartet. Label: Columbia. Format: CD. Catalog#: MPK 45695. Track: 22.

Title: String Quartet in F Major, by Maurice Ravel; Julliard String Quartet. Label: Sony. Format: CD. Catalog#: SK 52554. Track: 8.

Title: String Quintet, K. 516, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Tokyo String Quartet with Pinchas Zukerman, viola. Label: RCA. Format: CD. Catalog#: 09026-60940-2. Track: 5.

Title: Quintet, D. 956, by Franz Schubert; Cleveland Quartet with Yo-Yo Ma, violoncello. Label: CBS. Format: CD. Catalog#: MK 39134. Track: 3.