Poster Cincinnati String Quartet perform at a wedding.
The Cincinnati String Quartet performs at a wedding.
Chamber Music

Five great string quartets to accompany a wedding

String quartets bring vitality, warmth and intimacy to any wedding ceremony. Able to accommodate most wedding venues and armed with a wealth of classical repertoire, they provide not only versatility, but beauty and elegance to the occasion. With so much music available, however, it can be daunting to know where to begin. Here are a few highlights that go beyond the standard wedding fare and can help jump-start the process.

Tchaikovsky: String Quartet No. 1

Planning the music for the beginning of any ceremony can be tricky. You want something lyrical and expressive yet with enough spark to keep the momentum going as family and friends reunite and eagerly await the celebration. Peter Tchaikovsky's String Quartet No. 1, aptly nicknamed The Accordion for the pulsing breathlessness of this first movement, starts with a quiet energy that slowly builds into a joyous explosion of musical fireworks. It's a combination of beautiful melodies, lush harmonies and just the right amount of fire.

Bach: Cello Suite No. 3

One of the often-underused advantages of having a quartet is that you have four highly skilled musicians available for your service. Why not highlight them individually? Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suites are a staple of any cellist’s repertoire. While the common piece to turn to is the Prelude from the First Suite ….

… the Prelude from the Third Suite is stately, dignified and equally as beautiful; an elegant accompaniment as grandparents, parents and distinguished guests process for the ceremony.

Rochberg: String Quartet No. 6

This little-known gem would make the perfect processional for the creative traditionalist. Based upon Johann Pachelbel's now iconic and widely used Canon, the third movement of George Rochberg’s quartet keeps the structure and beautiful lines found in the 17th-century classic while providing new life through an infusion of neo-romantic intensity — the perfect combination of old and new.

Borodin: String Quartet No. 2

Weddings are a celebration of two becoming one, and the first movement of this piece by Alexander Borodin is a gorgeous representation of that same ideal. The piece consists primarily of violin and cello in graceful dialogue — yet culminates with the two united as one in the celebratory closing theme. Whether as a stand-alone piece or in an accompanying role, this piece is sure to captivate all in attendance.

Haydn: ‘Lark Quartet’

What better way to send off your guests than with this joyous spitfire? The fourth movement of Franz Joseph Haydn’s Lark Quartet is a classical favorite that can kick-start the festivities so they're sure to last well into the night.

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