Chamber Music: A Starting Guide
Part I: Where to Find Chamber Music in the UNLV Music Library
- Collections: M177-179
- Duets: M180-298.5
- Piano 4 hands/2 pianos: M198-216
- Solo instrument with piano: M217-M285 (for more detailed information, see our research guide for the specific instrument)
- String duets: M286-287
- Wind duets: M288-289
- String/wind duets: M290-291
- Duets of plucked instruments: M292-293
- Other duets: M294-298.5
- Trios: M300-386
- Trios with piano: M310-344
- String trios: M349-353
- Wind trios (woodwind and/or brass instruments): M355-359
- String/wind combinations: M360-364
- Plucked instruments: M365-369
- String/plucked instrument combinations: M370-374
- Wind/plucked instrument combinations: M375-379
- Other combinations: M380-386
- Quartets and larger combinations are arranged in the same way as trios above; e.g. Quartets with piano are found under M410-444.
- Quartets: M400-486
- Quintets: M500-586
- Sextets: M600-686
- Septets: M700-786
- Octets: M800-M886
- Nonets and larger combinations: M900-986
- Specific combinations:
- Piano trios: M312
- String trios: M349-353
- Piano quartets: M412
- String quartets: M451-452
- Woodwind quartets: M457.2
- Brass quartets: M457.4
- Piano quintets: M512
- String quintets: 550-552
- Woodwind quintets (with horn): M555-559
- Brass quintets: M557.4
- History, criticism, etc. of chamber music: ML1100 (Lied Library Stacks)
Part II: Representative Subject Headings for Chamber Music
There are a relatively limited number of popular chamber combinations (this list excludes works for solo instrument and piano):
- Piano trios (piano, violin, violoncello)
- String trios (violin, viola, violoncello)
- Piano quartets (piano, violin, viola, violoncello)
- String quartets (2 violins, viola, violoncello)
- String quintets (Violins (2), violas (2), violoncello)
- String quintets (Violins (2), viola, violoncellos (2))
- Wind quintets (Bassoon, clarinet, flute, horn, oboe)
However, for the most part you must understand how music subject headings are constructed in order to perform a useful subject search for chamber music combinations. You may find a keyword search more practical when searching for combinations of specific instruments. For example, to search for music including flute, clarinet, oboe and bassoon, perform a keyword search with those terms. If you are looking for a score (as opposed to a recording) you may want to include the keyword "scores" as well.
You may want to limit your search to a particular musical form, such as suites, sonatas, etc. If so, include the form as a keyword. Or, to search for combinations using more than one of a particular instrument, use the plural for that instrument (for example, you may search with keywords clarinet violins viola violoncello if you are looking for clarinet with string quartet).
Note: Unless you specifically include a keyword such as "trios," "quartets," "quintets," in your search you will probably pull up works with instruments additional to those you specified. However, including one of these keywords will also exclude works in specific forms, such as sonatas, suites, etc. You may well need to perform multiple searches to locate the instrumentation you seek.
Part III: Useful Sources
Cobbett, Walter Willson. Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music. Oxford [England]; New York: Oxford University Press, 1988, c1963.
Music Ref. ML1100 .C7 1988
Cohn, Arthur. The Literature of Chamber Music. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Hinshaw, c1997.
Music Ref. ML1100 .C78 1997
Gillaspie, Jon A., Marshall Stoneham, David Lindsey Clark. Wind Ensemble Catalog. (Music reference collection ; no. 63) Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998.
Music Ref. ML128.W5 G52 1998
Lawrence, Ian. The Twentieth-Century String Quartet: an Historical Introduction and Catalogue. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2001.
Lied Book Stacks ML128.C4 L37 2001
McCalla, James. Twentieth-Century Chamber Music. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2003.
Lied Book Stacks ML1106 .M33 2003
The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (Online). London: Macmillan Reference; New York: Grove's Dictionaries, 2001-
Part IV: Periodicals
Lied Periodicals ML1 .C353