A Joyful Noise

November 5, 2009

Chamber Music vs. Classical Music – A Difference?

Filed under: Uncategorized — midsummersmusicfestival @ 3:38 pm

Thursday, November 5

From Jim Berkenstock, Artistic Director of Midsummer’s Music Festival, Door County, WI:

A question was recently raised about the difference between chamber and classical music. “Chamber music and classical music are not mutually exclusive.  Actually chamber music is a subset of classical music, at least the way Midsummer’s Music plays it.  We play classical chamber music.  

The “chamber” part refers to a “room” or chamber in which the music is usually played (as conceived).  When a group is so large it needs a special room (concert hall) or stage, it is outside the realm of chamber music.  Therefore, a large room in a palace could accomodate a 15 – 20 pieced “orchestra” for baroque music, etc. and still sort of fit the parameters of chamber music, but in reality, it seems mostly to fit the one-player-per-part definition.

The classical idea comes from the fact that this kind of music represents a large body of historical music that has been built upon itself and is conceived as a work of “sound architecture” (constructed over a time period, using various methods, to hold ones interest throughout).  It also is considered classical in that it endures and has value beyond the present (or time when written) much like one considers a 1964 mustang a classic.  They are now even referring to “classic rock” – another way of saying oldies but goodies.”

It’s interesting to note that chamber music is played with only one instrument to a part. If there are two violinists, they are each playing a different part unlike an orchestra where you might have 12 violins playing just one part of the composition.

If you haven’t experienced a chamber music concert, you don’t know what you are missing. It’s classical music at it’s best. As we say at Midsummer’s Music Festival, it’s not for the faint of heart!


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