The string quartet was created in the middle of the 18th century as its own genre of chamber music. In the compositions the individual voices were given a different significance. For example, in baroque music the cello only had an accompanying function as a bass instrument, whereas in the string quartet it also assumed soloistic passages. Particularly the composer Joseph Haydn helped to develop the string quartet into the most sophisticated genre of chamber music. A composition of its own was created. A kind of “dialogue character” was ascribed to the compositions. In the Viennese Classic, the Golden Age of the string quartet, this genre was influenced by Haydn, but also by Mozart and Beethoven and later especially by Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Brahms, Dvorák and Grieg.
As a general rule string quartets are made up of two violins, a viola and a cello. Initially they were occupied by the principal musicians of the instrument groups of an orchestra. It was only from the second half of the 20th century that autonomous chamber music ensembles were formed.