Proceeding in our quest to become wealthy and having determined that wealthy people tend to patronize the arts

and that if one wants to become wealthy it is probably smart to hang about in venues in which wealthy people might be found, we have been investigating various artistic genres in which the affluent take an interest. Foremost among these genres is chamber music. And that’s what we will explore today. Chamber music, apparently, almost always involves a violin. Sometimes it doesn’t, like if you are attending a concert by a brass ensemble. But it is usually the case that when you think chamber music, think violins. And other strings. Like violas and cellos and sometimes a double bass. Schubert uses a double bass in his famous piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass Trout Quintet, which is supposed to conjure up images of that fish. Fish don’t play a major part in chamber music except for Schubert and only in that quintet, I believe, and only that fish, as far as I know. He wrote many, many songs many of which are very beautiful and it could very well be that other kinds of fish appear in those songs. But I can’t say as they are in German, Schubert being Austrian. Which brings up the question of nationality in chamber music. What nations. Oop. Actually, empires during the great blooming of the chamber music genre, produced the greatest chamber music composers? And actually some of them didn’t come from empires as Schubert did. In his day (1797-1828), the multinational Habsburg Empire ruled so yes, he did live in an empire although he probably would have identified himself as Austrian. So, one can say that some of the greatest composers of chamber music were Austrians, like Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) who is credited with fathering the modern form of chamber music or chamber music period. Haydn spent part of his life under the Holy Roman Empire, but was basically an Austrian. So what with Haydn and Schubert, the Austrians make a pretty good showing in the chamber music race for the gold. There are also pretty good composers of chamber music who were born in what became Austria-Hungary or the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Both, really. That was in 1867, Schubert and Haydn long since dead. In 1867 and even now. But it lasted until around 1918, which covers the lifespan of Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904) who lived in it and was actually Czech as was Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959) who wrote what is considered topnotch second rank chamber music which is not so great as the definitely not second rank chamber music of Beethoven and Schumann, who were Germans except for the fact that Germany wasn’t a nation state until 1871, before that being a hodgepodge of kingdoms and principalities. But culturally Schumann and Beethoven were Germans. So the Germans give the Austrians a run for their money in the chamber music department in that Beethoven is considered the real genius of chamber music, which is so like him in that he is considered a genius in so many other genres (e.g. symphonies and piano music). Bur Mozart was basically an Austrian and he wrote great chamber music but wasn’t as innovative in that genre as Haydn and, being dead much of the time, Mozart couldn’t build on the foundation that Haydn laid although they knew each other before Mozart died. Bach couldn’t either. Not die but build, having lived well before the great flowering of chamber music in the 19th century. But he did pretty well in other genres and Mozart thought a lot of him.

Another German who did really well chamber music-wise was Felix Mendelssohn (18091847) with string quartets, the Octet and some of his piano trios. We’ll get to quartets and all that in a minute. Right now we are sticking to the matter of what nationalities really aced the chamber music test-a-roo. The Italians don’t seem to have been much interested in composing chamber music, probably figuring that the Germans and the Austrians owned it. Verdi wrote a string quartet, which is said to be really good, but he and Wagner didn’t write much chamber music even though Wagner was a German and Germans seem to be really good at writing chamber music. Wagner was busy with other stuff, though. The French do okay with Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924), Ravel and Debussy, but they seem to have had major productivity problems and so aren’t really factors except to connoisseurs and their countrymen. The Russians make a good showing what with Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich and Prokofiev which goes to show you that chamber music can be written in creaking empires and in Stalinist states and in temporary exile in Prokofiev’s case. Americans don't really excel at chamber music. Indeed, we seem to really stink at it except as performers of it especially foreign-born ones. One of the major challenges in getting the hang of chamber music is remembering the various combos. For example, a piano trio isn’t three pianos. Noooo. It is a piano, a violin and a cello. See, what did I tell you about violins. The standard grouping, though, is the string quartet and a string quartet means the piece and the group playing it. You wouldn't, for instance, have a string quartet playing a trio unless someone is out sick. String quartets have four players with two violins, one viola and one cello. I mean two violinists with one violin each and a viola and a cello. I mean two violinists and a violist and a cellist. You have to have a good grasp of numbers to understand chamber music. There is also the piano quartet, which consists of a piano and a string trio. And what is a string trio? A string trio is violin, viola, and cello so what you have is a quartet which means four made of up of three plus a piano although if you have a quartet and a trio that'd make seven but not in chamber music. There are also string quintets, which are the same as string quartets except that they have two violins and play music written for quintets, usually string quintets. If you aren’t into violins you might like wind quintets which consist of a bassoon, clarinet, flute, French horn and an oboe or, if you don’t like oboes you might like brass quintets, which consist of two trumpets, French horn, trombone, and tuba and which make for a nice change but which are not part of the standard chamber music repertoire, which is violin-heavy as noted elsewhere in this essay and in essays by people other than myself.

There are also sextets, septets, octets (Mendelssohn wrote a great one, so they say) and “pieces for ten players,” which is clear although I am not sure what they are playing instrument-wise. If you want to get the most out of chamber music, it helps to have some background in music. Mendelssohn wrote a piano trio in D. Schubert wrote a piano quintet in A. Beethoven wrote a string quartet in F. I am writing this essay in my apartment. And there are not just letters like D or F and B. There are also such things as G minor or even E Flat Major, which is getting really complex. But our goal, remember, is to become rich and one way to become popular among the rich and thereby be cut into inside deals is to listen while rich people discourse on topics such as chamber music. Therefore, you need not know very much about it. Just look interested when someone wealthy is pontificating about it. This info provided here is probably all you need to know about chamber music at this point.