Woodwind Quintet

The most venerable chamber ensemble combination featuring solo wind players is the woodwind quintet, also referred to as the wind quintet. Established around the year 1800, a time when all of the instruments in this ensemble configuration were undergoing significant design improvements, there was a burst of interest amongst composers in writing for the quintet during the first quarter of the 19th century. This interest waned for much of the following 100 years, only to be rekindled in the 1920s. Since then, quite a substantial repertoire has been created for this combination the standard instrumentation of which is one each of the instruments pictured below.

Woodwind quintet music is today heard most often in the context of tertiary educational institutions (conservatories, schools of music, and music departments) and in public school music programs were it is drawn upon for solo and ensemble competitions. Tertiary music institutions will often have one such ensemble comprised of members of their studio teaching faculty, and in turn some of these studio instructors will coach student ensembles. Professional woodwind quintets exist, either as offshoots of symphony orchestras, as artists-in-residence in music schools, or as independently organized groups, and a few of these attain international notoriety through recording releases and concertizing. 


Suppan, Wolfgang. “Wind quintet,” in Grove Music Online. Accessed December 6 2014: http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/30404

(by Roger Vetter)

concert flute





Title: Irving Fine--Partita for Wind Quintet, by Irving Fine; New York Woodwind Quintet. Label: Elektra/Nonesuch. Format: CD. Catalog#: 9 79175-2. Track: 4.