Fun, easy to read string quartet sheet music?
September 2, 2014 5:08 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for fun, sightread-able, easily available string quartet sheet music for my wedding.

Some friends from my community orchestra are kindly offering their services to play music for my November wedding. I have specific pieces for them to play during the actual ceremony, but they will also be playing some incidental music for about 30-45 minutes as people are arriving. They are buddies of mine, not an established string quartet, so they don't have any particular repertoire and I don't have strong feelings about what I want. Hive mind, help me find some music!

I'd like the music I choose to:

--be fun to play
--be reasonably easy for talented amateurs to sightread/play with minimal preparation
--have sheet music available for free online
--not be Pachelbel's Canon in D

Thanks for your suggestions and links!
posted by JuliaJellicoe to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I guess it depends on what you mean by 'easy.' Mozart string quartets, in my opinion, are probably the least technically challenging string quartets that will be readily available in the public domain, and should have parts available for download online.

Haydn is another option. About the same technical difficulty as Mozart quartets.

Early Beethoven quartets (No. 1-6) are also not too bad.

Past that, you're getting into less easily sight-readable territory, depending on how skilled your friends are, but certainly harder to make work as a quartet. For most musicians, Mozart is engrained enough that they can make it work okay on the fly.

The issue with say string quartet arrangements of non-classical pieces is that, while potentially easy, they are not going to be available online for free.
posted by Lutoslawski at 5:58 PM on September 2, 2014

have you tried a library of a school with a music program? My university library certainly has all the sheet music you could ever want.
posted by chapps at 6:10 PM on September 2, 2014

(university often offer alumni and community library cards)
posted by chapps at 6:10 PM on September 2, 2014

Or perhaps these folks, who offer a music lending library on a membership basis
posted by chapps at 6:11 PM on September 2, 2014

Ok last shortpost ... my public library also has sheet music.
posted by chapps at 6:13 PM on September 2, 2014

I used to play weddings in college. We played out of an anthology or set of Mozart quartets, as Lutoslawski said. There were dozens of movements, so if one looked harder or we were tired or tipsy we'd just pick another ...
posted by Dashy at 6:29 PM on September 2, 2014

Parts are at IMSLP: Mozart Q4s at IMSLP
posted by Dashy at 6:37 PM on September 2, 2014

This series of books is pretty good for weddings, and the music isn't too difficult.

8notes offers sheet music - some free - that is graded, so you can quickly find less challenging pieces.

I also second looking into Mozart (I would flip through the Divertimenti, and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik to see if those work) and Haydn Quartets. You may also want to consider something like Brandenburg Concertos, especially No. 3 (Bach), which are pretty easy to get through. His Air on the G String is also easy and gorgeous.

There are also some string quartet books of show tunes, if you want to incorporate some lighter music for something like a cocktail hour.

I've been playing weddings (violinist) for about 25 years, and these are pieces that play well and aren't too terribly difficult. Hope this helps!
posted by Fiorentina97 at 6:45 PM on September 2, 2014

This looks promising.

"Two complete albums of popular string quartet sheet music are available here for free download. They are in PDF format, and are organized according to separate parts. They are suitable for wedding music, concerts, conferences and all typical string quartet gigs."
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 6:57 PM on September 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another vote for 'that big book of Mozart quartets that I used for weddings/events in college'. Though as Dashy mentions, a big plus is the ability to flip through the book and make a game time decision as to where each movement falls on the bathtub curve of playability vs tipsiness: for that feature my own preference would be to buy or borrow a book with individual string parts rather than running off a large number of parts on a home printer.
posted by yaarrgh at 11:07 PM on September 2, 2014

My girlfriend, who plays many weddings, recommends perusing It has lots of public domain music, and you can find pieces for all levels of performers.
posted by BevosAngryGhost at 8:58 AM on September 3, 2014

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