Flute quartet

Flute quartet

A flute quartet is a musical term for a type of chamber music group. They are normally found in two forms: those consisting of a flute, a violin, a viola and a cello; and those consisting of four flutes. This last combination often comes in three different but distinct arrangements:

* a group of four C flutes; or
* a group of three C flutes and Alto flute; or
* a group consisting of two C flutes, Alto and Bass flute (this last grouping is the closest comparable equivalent of a string quartet for four flutes).

Works for Flute, Violin, Viola and Cello

This form is closely related to the string quartet, but with a flute in place of the first violin. It is generally believed that this type of chamber music reached its pinnacle around the middle of the second half of the 18th century. Notable works for flute quartets consisting of a flute, violin, viola and cello include those by the following composers:
*Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - four flute quartets - No.1 in D major (K 285), No. 2 in G major (K 285a), No. 3 in C major (K 285b) and No. 4 in A major (K 298)
*Johann Christian Bach
*Christian Cannabich
*Domenico Cimarosa
*Franz Danzi
*François Devienne
*Adalbert Gyrowetz
*Josef Haydn
*Franz Krommer
*Friedrich Kuhlau
*Ignaz Pleyel
*Anton Reicha
*Carlo Giuseppe Toeschi
*Georg Abraham Schneider - "First Grand Quartet" Op.68 in E♭ Major (as well as 32 additional flute quartets).
*Adolphe F. Wouters - "Adagio and Scherzo" (1895)

The interest of the enthusiasts in arrangements of flute with string trio, which at times reached the popularity of the string quartet, is shown by contemporary transcriptions of string quartets by publishers, for instance, the quartets of Haydn. Gioacchino Rossini also transcribed six of his "Sonate a quattro" (originally for strings).

In the first decades of the 19th century, the string quartet became far more important than flute quartets and so very few works were composed until the 20th century. Until the works of Volkmar Andreae (quartet Op. 43) and Gottfried von Einem (quartet Op. 85), the 20th Century was also rather lacking in compositions of this type.

Works for 4 Flutes

19th Century

Works for four flutes were particularly popular at the turn of the 19th century (from the 1700s to 1800). Some of the most well-known from this time might include the compositions of Friedrich Kuhlau (quartet in E major) and Anton Reicha (quartets Op. 12, Op. 19). Further quartets came from, for example, Friedrich Hartmann Graf, Anton Bernhard Fuerstenau and Luigi Gianella.

Early 20th Century

In the 20th century, quartets with four flutes experienced a renaissance. This type of arrangement, with its specific, light tone color, especially appealed to the French wind tradition. Examples of some works from the early 20th century include those of Florent Schmitt (quartet Op. 106), Josef Lauber ("vision de Corse", Op. 54), Marc Berthomieu ("Arcadie"), Joseph Jongen ("Elégie", Op. 114.3), Alexander Tcherepnin ("Quatuor pour flûtes" Op. 60 - 1939), and "Colonial Sketches" (1940) by Sol B. Cohen.

Late 20th Century

The late 20th Century saw a new revival for the flute quartet, including these works:
*Eugène Bozza "Jour d'été à la montagne" (1953)
*Peter Bacchus "Quartet for Diverse Flutes" (1985)
*Marc Berthomieu "Les Chats" (1969) (Berthomieu wrote four other flute quartets as well)
*Jacques Castérède "Flûtes en vacances" (1962)
*Ingolf Dahl "Serenade for Four Flutes" (1960) (Boosey & Hawkes)
*Pierre Max Dubois "Quatuor pour flûtes" (1961/2)
*David Evan Jones "Tibae" (Solo for Four) (1983)
*Serge Lancen "Quatres Flûtes en Balade" (1970) (Chappell)
*Paule Maurice "Suite pour quatuor de flûtes" (1967)
*Joshua L. Mazur "The Light", for 3 C Flutes and Alto Flute
*Roger Reynolds Four Etudes (1961) Edition Peters
*R. Murray Schafer Five Studies on Texts by Prudentius (for four flutes and soprano). (Berandol Music)
*Harvey Sollberger Grand Quartet for Flutes (1961) (McGinnis & Marx)
*Daniel Theaker Flute Quartets 1-3 (Mayfair Montgomery Publishing)
*Preston Trembly Cantelena (1975)

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