String quintet

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A string quintet is an ensemble of five string instrument players or a piece written for such a combination. The most common combinations in classical music are two violins, two violas and cello or two violins, viola and two cellos. The second cello is occasionally replaced by a double bass, as in Antonín Dvořák's quintet Op. 77 or Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart pioneered writing for a string quartet augmented by a second viola, and one outstanding masterpiece for the two-cello quintet is Franz Schubert's Quintet in C major. Closely related chamber music genres include the string trio, the string quartet, and the string sextet.

By convention, the string quintet with an extra viola is called a "viola quintet" and a string quintet with an extra cello is called a "cello quintet." While a naïve concert-goer might expect five violas on the stage when a "viola quintet" appears on a chamber music program, such a quintet would most likely be called a "quintet for five violas."

String quintets have been written by many composers, as can be seen from the following list. It is interesting to note that some composers who wrote well-known series of string quartets, such as Joseph Haydn, Béla Bartók, Paul Hindemith, and Dmitri Shostakovich, never composed a string quintet.

The term string quintet can also refer to the standard orchestral string section consisting of two violins, one viola, one cello, and one bass part, even though in this case there are multiple musicians playing each part.

List of string quintet composers

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