Definition of quartet in English:


(also quartette)


  • 1A group of four people playing music or singing together.

    • ‘Chicago quartet L' Altra make music for rainy Sundays: gentle, gauzy and not a little wistful.’
    • ‘He believes that you increase your understanding by playing in small ensembles - three, four or five people in trios, quartets and quintets.’
    • ‘The piece's next movement, a canon at the octave, frames the first four movements together, but the quartet chose not to play it tonight.’
    • ‘Also, those four people will be playing in a quartet in a music hall not too far from here.’
    • ‘To add to the occasion there was a jazz quartet, playing lively music and cheering people up on an otherwise murky day.’
    • ‘Brady Johnson has been singing in gospel quartets for many years and is a member of the Muddy River Quartet.’
    • ‘Players will be judged in the following groups: Under 13, Under 16, Under 21, orchestras, ensembles, quartets, duets, sight reading and solo performances.’
    • ‘There's a jazz quartet playing mood music under the neon coloured strip lights barely audible in the hubbub of a full bar and seating area.’
    • ‘There was rhythmic propulsion and vigor in the fast sections, yet the quartet never exaggerated the music's pulse.’
    • ‘In their 25th year of marriage, Mom started singing with a country gospel music quartet led by a guy named Gordon.’
    • ‘He treasured his church family, Bible studies, Gideon involvements and singing in male quartets.’
    • ‘The quartet has been writing new songs so immensely good, their talent scares me sometimes.’
    • ‘The quartet delivered this music with no holds barred abandon.’
    • ‘And my grand-uncles had a gospel quartet that would sing at church and community events.’
    • ‘Barbershop singing originated in the US at the turn of the last century, when quartets would sing in real barbers' shops.’
    • ‘A chamber music quartet was rehearsing for a Vivaldi recital, and it was gorgeous.’
    • ‘Each of the cafes along the edges of the square had a band, mostly quartets playing classical music or jazz or some show tunes.’
    • ‘We've been playing for 25 years, and we played very intensively together, and then we invited people to join us, so I have luxuriated in trios and quartets and quintets.’
    • ‘After the interval we heard a recorder quartet playing rediscovered music by Vaughan Williams.’
    • ‘Those who fought against racial segregation decried its social and cultural boundaries as inhuman nonsense: Jazz quartets and symphony orchestras were appropriate forms of expression for whoever happened to enjoy them.’
    • ‘While a youth, he established an association with the Hoffman music company in Leavenworth, directed church choirs, sang with a quartette, and organized a ‘Pickaninny Band.’’
    group, band, orchestra, combo
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A composition for a quartet.
      ‘a Beethoven quartet’
      • ‘There is a great deal of Dvorak chamber music - 14 string quartets and three quintets, as well as 10 trios, quartets and quintets with piano - and only a fraction of it is heard regularly in recitals.’
      • ‘His earliest extant chamber music for strings comprises the two sextets: in these the additional instruments give a full sound, which he achieved eventually in the quartets composed in middle life.’
      • ‘The reason for the delayed première of the fifth quartet was because of the circumstances of its composition.’
      • ‘Indeed, Durey wrote his first and second quartets quite close together and followed with a third in 1927-28.’
      • ‘Musical accompaniment is provided by a piano quartet with additional percussion.’
      • ‘The Nielsen songs and the Langgaard quartet were recorded earlier in the month, in performance, but not in competition.’
      • ‘This quartet is musically closer to the quartets of fellow Theresienstadt composers Ullmann and Schulhoff.’
      • ‘Not only can a listener trace the progress of Bartók's musical style over the course of the six quartets, but you get a chance to hear some of the best music the 20th century had to offer.’
      • ‘The century was nearing its end and Székely had never heard his quartet performed in concert.’
      • ‘For years the op.33 quartets have been singled out as ‘composed in a new and entirely special way’.’
      • ‘Some of his chamber works are the eight string quartets, two piano trios, two piano quintets, a piano quartet and sonatas for violin and cello.’
      • ‘Ian has composed over sixty pieces including concertos for organ, cello, alto saxophone, violin, marimba and piano, orchestral pieces, six chamber quartets, three piano trios, and many other chamber and vocal works.’
      • ‘It is not for nothing they have recorded for this same label a couple of quartets by Roberto Gerhard, an exiled Spanish composer who could be seen thoughtfully pacing the streets of Cambridge during my time there.’
      • ‘In both quartets, the subtle shifts in composition and coloration occur within a repeating, reductivist composition of standardized top and bottom horizontal stripes bracketing square fields of identical size.’
      • ‘The sound of the Zehetmair Quartet - refined, lean and coolly transparent - isn't obviously suited to full-blooded romantic works like the quartets Schumann composed in 1840.’
      • ‘The repertoire of piano quartets and quintets is not a huge one, so good ones should not be jettisoned.’
      • ‘He counts work on Shostakovich's quartets with Rostropovich as among the high points of his musical life.’
      • ‘However, it is not a complete cycle, for it was recorded (in collaboration with the composer in Moscow in the late 1960s) before Shostakovich had composed his 14th and 15th quartets.’
      • ‘Burney recorded that his instrumental works - symphonies, concertos, octets, quartets, and trios - were as popular as his vocal music.’
      • ‘It would be going a little far, however, to claim that the intrinsic musical merit of Dvorak's early quartets is as interesting or as endlessly refreshing as that of Beethoven's opus 18 works.’
    2. 1.2A set of four people or things.
      ‘a quartet of comfortable armchairs’
      • ‘Astronomers using telescopes on Mauna Kea have found an extremely rare quartet of stars that orbit each other within a region smaller than Jupiter's orbit round the Sun.’
      • ‘A quartet of powerhouse teams, each with a uniquely skilled star, is set for a showdown in San Antonio in the strongest Final Four ever.’
      • ‘It's a good bet that at least 11 of the 12 drivers who will make NASCAR's version of the playoffs will come from this quartet of teams.’
      • ‘A regular ministerial telephone conference of the Quartet of international mediators for Middle East settlement took place on February 20.’
      • ‘The plate is composed of a quartet of salads around a small mound of baby greens.’


Early 17th century (in the general sense ‘set of four’): from French quartette, from Italian quartetto, from quarto fourth, from Latin quartus.