Ensemble layout[citation needed]
Ensemble layout[citation needed]

A woodwind quartet (or wind quartet) is a musical ensemble for four woodwind instruments. Alternatively the term refers to music composed for this ensemble. The most common scoring is flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon. The ensemble is also often used as a teaching ensemble in schools and universities and as a concertino group in a concerto grosso.[1][2]


The woodwind quartet contains four instruments from different subgroups of the woodwind family. This gives the ensemble a wide range with different timbres in different ranges. The flute and oboe provide the high tones, the bassoon the low tones, and the clarinet both the high and low tones.[3][unreliable source?] Despite its timbral variety, the available repertoire for this ensemble is smaller compared to other chamber music ensembles. One reason is that the instrumentation of a woodwind quartet resembles that of a woodwind quintet, which has a larger repertoire.[1]


Since the professional repertoire for this ensemble is limited, few professional woodwind quartets exist.[1] The woodwind quartet, as well as chamber music as a whole, is commonly used as an educational ensemble in schools and universities. Many works for the ensemble exist at varying difficulties, allowing for musicians of different skills to participate in the ensemble. Works for the woodwind quartet that are often performed are Heitor Villa-Lobos' Quartet (1928)[4] and Elliot Carter's Eight Etudes and a Fantasy (1950).[1] Some composers have also added the piano or harp to the woodwind quartet, such as Franz Danzi in his Quintet in F major, Op. 53.[5]

In addition to its use as a chamber ensemble, the woodwind quartet may function as a concertino group in a concerto grosso. Examples are the Quadruple Concerto for woodwind quartet and orchestra (1935) by Jean Françaix, and the Concerto Grosso for woodwind quartet and wind ensemble (1959) by Heitor Villa-Lobos.[4] Paul Hindemith added a harp to the woodwind quartet in his Concerto for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, harp, and orchestra (1949).[citation needed]

Woodwind quartet repertoire

20th century

21st century

Notable wind quartets


  1. ^ a b c d Rasmussen, Mary; Mattran, Donald (1966). A Teacher's Guide to the Literature of Woodwind Instruments. Durham, NH: Brass and Woodwind Quarterly. pp. 197–198.
  2. ^ Susan J. Maclagan, A Dictionary for the Modern Flutist (Lanham, MD; Plymouth, UK: Scarecrow Press, 2009): 142. ISBN 978-0-8108-6728-4.
  3. ^ Anon., "What Is a Woodwind Quartet?", WiseGeek.com (accessed 26 May 2015).
  4. ^ a b Appleby, David P. (2002). Heitor Villa-Lobos : a life (1887-1959). Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-4149-5. OCLC 48045814.
  5. ^ Houser, Roy. Catalogue of Chamber Music for Woodwind Instruments. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University School of Music. p. 103.
  6. ^ "Tetrawind".