This Companion offers a concise and authoritative survey of the string quartet by eleven chamber music specialists. Its fifteen carefully structured chapters provide coverage of a stimulating range of perspectives previously unavailable in one volume. It focuses on four main areas: the social and musical background to the quartet's development; the most celebrated ensembles; string quartet playing, including aspects of contemporary and historical performing practice; and the mainstream repertory, including significant 'mixed ensemble' compositions involving string quartet. Various musical and pictorial illustrations and informative appendixes, including a chronology of the most significant works, complete this indispensable guide. Written for all string quartet enthusiasts, this Companion will enrich readers' understanding of the history of the genre, the context and significance of quartets as cultural phenomena, and the musical, technical and interpretative problems of chamber music performance. It will also enhance their experience of listening to quartets in performance and on recordings.