Throughout the 19th Century — let’s say, from Beethoven (1770-1827) to Mahler (1860-1911) — the orchestra kept getting bigger and bigger.

Composers, who were determined to facilitate musical evolution, worked their innovations into orchestral scores, since a public orchestral concert was the best way to reach the most music lovers, as well as being a condenser of critical attention.

This expansion of forces reached its pinnacle in the years just before World War I (1914-18), with Arnold Schoenberg‘s “Gurrelieder” (1911) and Igor Stravinsky‘s “Firebird” (1910).

The year 1911 also saw the passing of Gustav Mahler, who had been Schoenberg’s guiding light, and to whose “hallowed memory” he dedicated his “Theory of Harmony,” first published in late 1911, just after Mahler’s death.

After the war, the scene was very different. The three great empires which had dominated European culture prior to SarajevoHapsburg, Hohenzollern, Romanov — were now gone, their rulers dead or in exile, their lands broken up into ethnic conclaves, their great cultural institutions — those that survived — under radically new (and generally tight-fisted) management.

Several gifted composers had been killed in the conflagration, including France’s Albéric Magnard (1865-1914), England’s George Butterworth (1885-1916), and Germany’s Rudi Stephan (1887-1916).

Thanks to the Bolsheviks, Stravinsky, Sergei Rachmaninov, and Sergei Prokofiev were all living in exile (only Prokofiev would return to Russia to live).

The Nazis taking power in Germany (1933) and Austria (1938) sparked another diaspora of artists, especially Jews like Schoenberg and Alban Berg, but also artists of conscience like composer Paul Hindemith and the novelists Erich Maria Remarque and Thomas Mann.

In such an unstable and uncertain environment, most composers concentrated on chamber music. This was not only a question of available resources, but of retooled vision as well. They expressed themselves, not like orators in a huge public rally, but as individuals in intimate conversations among equals.

Only in America and the United Kingdom — and Scandinavia, more or less untouched by the war — where cultural institutions and governments had remained generally intact, do we find the regular production of large-scaled orchestral works. Elsewhere, there were few orchestral works that could not be performed by a chamber orchestra.

It is not just economics, of course. The uses — not to mention pleasures — of chamber music are many and varied. Its importance to the pedagogical program of the Music Academy cannot be over-emphasized.

Most of the works that the fellows will chose to play in their careers — as opposed to works someone else has chosen and hired them to play — will be chamber music. Orchestral music teaches discipline; chamber music, collaboration.

If you are still with me after this rambling discourse, I shall now get to the business at hand, which is to announce that the Summer Festival’s Chamber Nights No. 4 will take place at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 19, in Lehmann Hall at Miraflores, 1070 Fairway Road. The fascinating program contains:

Franz Schreker‘s “‘Der Wind’ for Clarinet, Horn, Violin, Cello, and Piano” (1909), with Max Arakaki, clarinet, Amber Wang, horn, Isabella Brown, violin, Hamzah Zaidi, cello, Sujin Choi, piano; Gabriela Smith‘s “Anthozoa for Violin, Cello, Piano, and Percussion” (2018), with Paul Matthews, percussion/timpani, Ariana O’Connell, violin, Osheen Manukyan, cello, and Robert Brooks Carlson, piano; Eric Ewazen‘s “… to cast a shadow again, for medium low voice, trumpet, and piano,” (1991), with Robert Frazier, bass-baritone, Joshua Harris, trumpet, and Brian Cho, piano; and Dmitri Shostakovich‘s “Piano Quintet in g-minor, Opus 57 (1940),” with Justin Saulnier & Eunice Lee, violins, Sumin Cheong, viola, Sarah Chong, cello, and WeiYun Chang, piano.

In his time, Schreker (1878-1934) was famous for his operas, but all I have heard is his instrumental music. He was a contemporary, indeed, a close friend of, Arnold Schoenberg, and some music scholars claim to hear the influence of Schoenberg in his compositions. I don’t. I hear Wagner, though not so overbearing, and Richard Strauss, though not so overripe, but he is his own man, and his music, mostly tonal and shapely, is actually quite wonderful.

Gabriela Smith’s “Anthozoa” treats space like an instrument. The music is spread out across the stage, held in orbit by the percussion. You have to kind of settle into it, inhaling and exhaling, but it’s a rewarding piece, ultimately.

Ewazen’s piece also spreads itself out; piano, voice, and trumpet seem to be signaling each other from mountaintops.

The Shostakovich “Quintet” is a masterpiece, one of the greatest chamber works of the Twentieth Century. It is by turns gloomy and triumphant, lyrical and percussive.

Picnic Concert No. 3 starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 21, in Hahn Hall on the academy campus. The program contains three works:

Schumann’s “Sonata No. 1 in a-minor for Violin and Piano, Opus 105” (1851), with Justin Saulnier, violin, and Lu Niu, piano; Wolfgang Mozart‘s “Clarinet Quintet in A-Major, K. 581(1789),” with Richie Hawley, clarinet, Beau Henson & Whitney Takata, violins, Kenneth Fujii, viola, and Miles Tatsuo Goosby, cello; and the World Premiere of Samuel Carl Adams‘ “Études for Solo Piano” (2023) with Priscila Navarro, Paul Williamson, Szuyu Su, WeiYun Chang, Robert Brooks Carlson, Cristian Makhuli, and Priscila Navarro, all on piano.

Schumann and Mozart we know and love. If Adams’ “Études” are anything like his earlier “Impromptus,” then they will sound like Phillip Glass Plays Chopin, or Chopin Plays Phillip Glass.

But Adams is a versatile composer: his orchestral work, “Movements (for us and them),” is as different from his violin-dancer duet, “Playing Changes from Violin Diptych (2020),” as they both are from the “Impromptus.” So, it all depends …

Tickets to chamber nights start at $45 (7-17 admitted free; $10 Community Access tickets as available); tickets to Picnic Concerts start at $40 (7-17 admitted free; $10 Community Access tickets as available), and either can be purchased in person from the Summer Festival Ticket Office, the Carsey Ticket Office (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, June 5-Aug. 4), by phone at 805-969-8787, or online at