Membership dates. Violin I:
- Wilhelm Melcher (1940–2005)
- Hermann Voss (b.1934)
- Peter Buck (b.1937)
Origins and activities
The Melos Quartet Stuttgart was founded in October 1965 by four young musicians who were members of well-known German chamber orchestras. The name Melos, an ancient Greek word for music which is the root of the word melody, was suggested by the combination of the names Melcher and Voss, to indicate their purpose as distinct individuals seeking musical harmony together.
The leader, Wilhelm Melcher of Hamburg (1940–2005), studied with Erich Röhn, and with Pina Carmirelli and Arrigo Pelliccia of the Boccherini Quintet, in Rome. He won the International Chamber Music Competition at Venice in 1962, and became concertmaster of the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra from 1963. The two Voss brothers, Gerhard (b. 1939) and Hermann (b. 1934), are Rhinelanders: they studied with Sandor Végh, and Hermann continued as a pupil of Ulrich Koch's. He became solo violist of the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra. The cellist Peter Buck (b. 1937) is Swabian and studied at Düsseldorf and in Freiburg, and with Ludwig Hoelscher in Stuttgart. Gerhard Voss and Peter Buck were both members of the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra.
In 1966 the group gave its first recital: won a prize in the Villa-Lobos-Quartet competition at Rio de Janeiro: represented West Germany at the World Congress of Jeuness Musicale in Paris; and, most influentially for their future success, won the 'Prix Américain' as the best quartet, at the Geneva International Congress of Musical Performance. Then, giving up their orchestral positions to concentrate solely on the Quartet, they began touring in 1967 and in 1968 performed in seven European countries. In 1969 they gave 105 concerts throughout the world, and had their first television appearance.
In 1969 the group signed a five-year contract with the D.G.G. record company, and spent 25 days that year making recordings for radio and commercial release. They obtained the first prize of the String Quartet Foundation sponsored by German industry in 1970, and in 1972 they entered into a further contract with D.G.G. for complete recordings of the Schubert and Cherubini string quartets.
After this they undertook tours around the world, in North and South America, Africa, all European countries, the Near East and Far East, getting as far as Novosibirsk in Russia. They became the first West German musicians to play in Volgograd (Stalingrad), in 1973, in concerts commemorating the events of 1943. By 1975, when the Schubert integral recordings were completed and issued, the Quartet also held a teaching post at the Stuttgart School of Music.
By 1975 the group had built up a repertoire of 120 works, including the complete Beethoven, Schubert, Cherubini and Bartók quartets, and works by Haydn, Mozart, Brahms, Hugo Wolf, Pfitzner, Verdi, Donizetti, Debussy, Smetana, Kodály, Janáček, Hindemith, Alban Berg, Gian Francesco Malipiero, Witold Lutosławski, Milko Kelemen, Wittinger and Horvath. They made a conscious decision to have a wide-ranging repertoire in order to avoid getting stuck to any particular period.
For most of the Schubert recordings the instruments were a cello by Francesco Ruggieri (1682), a viola by Carlo Ferdinando Landolfi (18th century), first violin by Domenico Montagnana (1731) and second violin by Carlo Annibale Tononi (18th century).
They were planning a farewell tour in 2005, when Wilhelm Melcher, the first violinist died unexpectedly just before his 65th birthday.
They recorded a performance of the Schubert String Quintet with Mstislav Rostropovich as the second cellist on the Deutsche Grammophon label. They recorded a 3-CD set of Mozart's Haydn-Quartette, the complete Mendelssohn, Luigi Cherubini and Schubert String Quartets and the complete Beethoven Quartet Cycle for their 25th Anniversary as a Limited Edition Set for DGG label. With violist Franz Beyer, they recorded Mozart's complete String Quintets, again for the yellow label.
Complete discography, LPs & CDs
- BARTOK - String Quartet No.3 (LP - DGG 139 450 | rec:1970 + KODALY + WEINER)
- BEETHOVEN - Die frühen Streichquartette: Op.18 No.1-6 (3LP - Intercord 185.750 | rec: 1970)
- BEETHOVEN - Die mittleren Streichquartette: Op.59 Nos.1-3 / Op.74 / Op.95 (4LP - Intercord 185.751 | rec: 1970)
- BEETHOVEN - Die späten Streichquartette: Op.127 / Opp.130/131/132/133 / Op.130: alternative Finale / Op.135 / Op.14 No.1 (5LP - Intercord 185.752 | rec: 1970)
- BEETHOVEN - Die frühen Streichquartette: Op.18 No.1-6 (3CD - DGG 410971 | rec: 6/1983 | (p)1984 )
- BEETHOVEN - Die mittleren Streichquartette: Op.14 No.1 / Op.59 Nos.1-3 / Op.74 / Op.95 (3CD - DGG 415342 | rec: 1984 | (p)1985 )
- BEETHOVEN - Die späten Streichquartette: Op.127 / Opp.130/131/132/133 / Op.135 (3CD - DGG 415676 | rec: 12/1984; 5/1985 (op.130-132) | (p)1986 ) 
- BOCCHERINI - Quintets for Guitar and Strings: No.4 in D G.448 "Fandango" / No.9 in C, G.453 -"La ritirata di Madrid" / No.7 in E minor, G.451 (Narciso Yepes, guitar; CD - DGG 4777112 | rec: 3/1970 | (p)1971 )
- BRAHMS - Complete String Quartets: No.1 in C minor, Op.51/1 / No.2 in A minor, Op.51/2 / No.3 in B-flat major, Op.67 (3CD - DGG 423670 | rec: 5/1986 & 6/1987 | (p)1988 + SCHUMANN)
- BRAHMS - String Quintet No.2 in G major, Op.111 / Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op.115 (Gérard Caussé, 2. viola / Michel Portal, clarinet; CD - Harmonia Mundi 1951349)
- BRUCKNER - String Quintet in F major, WAB.112 / (Enrique Santiago, 2. viola; 2LP - Intercord, 1975 + JANACEK 2 + SMETANA 2 + WOLF)
- BRUCKNER - Intermezzo, in D minor, WAB.113 (Enrique Santiago, 2. viola; CD - Harmonia Mundi 1951421, *rec: May 1992 + Quintet)
- CHERUBINI - Complete String Quartets: No.1, in E flat major (1814) / No.2, in C major (1829) / No.3, in D minor (1834) / No.4, in E major (1835) / No.5, in F major (1835) / No.6, in A minor (1837) (3CD - DGG 4291852 | reprint: 3CD Brilliant Classics)
- DEBUSSY - String Quartet in G minor, Op.10, L.85 (LP - DGG 419750, + RAVEL; CD - DGG 4790529, + RAVEL + KODALY)
- DVORAK - String Quartet No.14, in A-flat major, Op.105/B.193 / String Quartet No.13, in G major, Op.106/B.192 (w. Ida Bieler, violin II; CD - Harmonia Mundi HMC 901709, 2001)
- DVORAK - String Quartet No.9, in D minor, Op.34/B.75 / Piano Quintet in A major, Op.81/B.155 / String Quintet No.3 (for 2 violas) in E flat major "American", Op.97/B.180 / String Quartet No.12, in F major "American", Op.96/B.179 (w. Ida Bieler, violin II; Karl Engel, piano; Gérard Caussé, 2. viola; 2CD - Harmonia Mundi HMC 901671, 1995)
- HAYDN - String Quartets: No.62, in C major "Emperor", Op.76/3, H.III/77 / No.63, in B-flat major "Sunrise", Op.76/4, H.III/78 / No.32, in C major "Bird", Op.33/3, H.III/39 (LP - Intercord; CD - EMI, 1988)
- JANACEK - String Quartet No.2 "Intimate Letters", JW.7/13 (2LP - Intercord, 1973 + SMETANA 2, BRUCKNER, WOLF)
- JANACEK - Complete String Quartets: No.1 "Kreutzer Sonata", JW.7/8 / No.2 "Intimate Letters", JW.7/13 (CD - Harmonia Mundi, 1992)
- KELEMEN - "Sonnets"  for String Quartet (CD - BIS 742; rec: 17/2/1988)
- KODALY - String Quartet No.2, Op.10 (LP - DGG 139 450 | rec:1970 + BARTOK + WEINER; CD - DGG 4790529, + RAVEL + DEBUSSY)
- MENDELSSOHN - Complete String Quartets: No.0, in E flat major oh.op. / No.1 in E flat major, Op.12 / No.2, in A minor, Op.13 / No.3, in D, Op.44/1 / No.4, in E minor, Op.44/2 / No.5, in E flat major, Op.44/3 / No.6, in F minor, Op.80 / Four Pieces for String Quartet, Op.81 (3CD - DGG 4158832)
- MOZART - 6 Haydn-Quartets: No.14, in G major K.387 "Spring" / No.15, in D minor K.421 (417b) / No.16, in E-flat major K.428 (421b) / No.17, in B-flat major K.458 "Hunt" / No.18, in A major K.464 / No.19, in C major K.465 "Dissonance" (3CD - DGG 415870)
- MOZART - Hoffmeister & 3 Prussian-Quartets: No.20, in D Major "Hoffmeister" K.499 / No.21, in D Major K.575 / No.22, in B-flat major K.589 / No.23, in F major K.590 (2CD - DGG 2531 320, rec: 1981)
- MOZART - Clarinet Quintet in A major "Stadler", K.581 / String Quartet No.20, in D Major "Hoffmeister" K.499 / Fugues (5) for String Quartet (transcribed from Bach WTC Book 2, Nos. 2,5,7,8,9) K.405 (Julia Rayson, clarinet; CD - EMI 5725662, 1997)
- MOZART - Piano Quartets: No.1 in G minor, K.478 / No.2 in E flat major, K.493 (Georg Solti, piano | CD - Decca 417190 / Decca Eloquence 4428221 | rec: 6/1984, 6/1985 | (p)1986 )
- MOZART - Complete String Quintets: No.1 in B flat major, K.174 / No.2 in C minor, K.406 (516b) / No.3 in C major, K.515 / No.4 in G minor, K.516 / No.5 in D major, K.593 / No.6 in E-flat major, K.614 (Franz Beyer (1-4) & Piero Farulli (5-6), 2. viola; 3CD - DGG | 1987/1991)
- PFLUGER - String Quartet  (CD - Bayer-Records 100040)
- RAVEL - String Quartet in F major, M.35 (LP - DGG 419750 + DEBUSSY| CD - DGG 4790529 + DEBUSSY + KODALY)
- SCHUBERT - Complete String Quartets: No.1, D.18 / No.2, in C major D.32 / No.3, in B flat major D.36 / No.4, in C major D.46 / No.5, in B flat major D.68 / No.6, in D major D.74 / No.7, in D major D.94 / Quartet Movement, in C minor D.103 / No.8, in B flat major D.112 (Op.Post.168) / No.9, in G minor D.173 / No.10, in E flat D.87 / No.11, in E major D.353 (op.post.125 No.2) / No.12, in C minor D.703 "Quartettsatz" / No.13, in A minor D.804 "Rosamunde" / No.14, in D minor D.810 "Death and the Maiden" / No.15, in G D.887 (6CD - DGG 4631512 | rec: 1971-75)
- SCHUBERT - String Quartets: No.13, in A minor D.804 "Rosamunde" / No.14, in D minor D.810 "Death and the Maiden" (CD - Novalis)
- SCHUBERT - String Quintet in C major, D.956 (Mstislav Rostropovich, 2. cello; CD - DGG 4776357)
- SCHUBERT - String Quintet in C major, D.956 -w. Ida Bieler, violin II- (Wolfgang Boettcher, 2. cello; CD - Harmonia Mundi | rec: 10/1993 | (p)1994 )
- SCHUMANN - Complete String Quartets: No.1 in A minor, Op.41/1 / No.2 in F major, Op.41/2 / No.3 in A major, Op.41/3 (3CD - DGG 423670 | rec: 5/1986 & 6/1987 | (p)1988 + BRAHMS)
- SIBELIUS - String Quartet in D minor, Op.56 Voces intimae (w. Ida Bieler, violin II; CD - Harmonia Mundi 901671, 1995 + VERDI)
- SMETANA - String Quartet No.2, in E minor "From my Life" (2LP - Intercord, 1973; + JANACEK 2 + BRUCKNER + WOLF)
- VERDI - String Quartet in E minor (w. Ida Bieler, violin II; CD - Harmonia Mundi, 1995 + SIBELIUS)
- WEINER - String Quartet No.3, Op.26 (LP - DGG 139 450 | rec:1970 + BARTOK + KODALY)
- WOLF - Italian Serenade in G minor, for String Quartet (2LP - Intercord, 1975; + JANACEK 2 + SMETANA 2 + BRUCKNER)
- Melos Quartett Live 1979: HAYDN String Quartet No.64, in D major Op.76 No.5/Hob.III:79 "Erdödy" / FORTNER String Quartet No.4 (1975) / RAVEL String Quartet in F major, M.35 (CD - Hänssler Classic 93716) 
- Information in this section is drawn from Ursula von Rauchhaupt, 'The Melos Quartet Stuttgart', in Franz Schubert, Die Streichquartette (Polydor International GmbH, 1975, DGG Discs 2563 425-431), Insert.
- This detail is from the article by Joseph Stevenson, in Allmusic.
- Melos quartet 1972, during an acclaimed tour of Southern Africa
- The Melos Quartett Stuttgart (Wilhelm Melcher, Gerhard Voss, Hermann Voss, Peter Buck) recorded all Beethoven string quartets twice: first, at Südwest Tonstudio Heinz Jansen, Stuttgart in 1970, for "Intercord" label (12 LP box set), then again in 1983-85 for DGG, after having "upgraded" to better instruments.
- [Melos Quartett: Quartet Recital 1979 http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/H%25C3%25A4nssler/HAEN93716]