Spencer Dyke Quartet

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The Spencer Dyke Quartet was a string quartet active in England through the 1920s. It is best remembered now for a series of pioneering chamber music recordings made for the National Gramophonic Society.


At the time of the recordings, the Quartet comprised the following:

1st violin: Spencer Dyke

2nd violin: Edwin Quaife

viola: Ernest Tomlinson
Bernard Shore appears in some recordings

violoncello: Brian Patterson Parker


Spencer Dyke was a Cornish violinist, having been born at St Austell on 22 July 1880. He won the Dove Scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music in London at the age of 17, and became a professor there in 1907. He was mainly concerned with chamber-music, and with teaching and editing. By 1924 he had written violin pieces and studies, had published editions of the classics and a book of Scales. In October 1923, Compton Mackenzie founded the National Gramophonic Society for the recording and publication by subscription of classical music, principally chamber music, which was of limited circulation. The Spencer Dyke Quartet was by then already well-known: Spencer Dyke joined the advisory board for the selection of material for the Society, together with Walter Willson Cobbett, and others. Cobbett had founded the Cobbett Competition in 1905 for a short form of String Quartet composition or 'Phantasy', and for other short chamber works. The Society was intended to develop the taste for modern chamber music. The Spencer Dyke Quartet, together with various other instrumentalists in ensemble, appeared on many of the recordings, and his position on the committee therefore probably signified the original intention of the founders to employ his musicians for the project.


(Including related ensemble recordings)

  • Beethoven: Quartet in E flat major op 74 'Harp' (NGS: A,B,C: 6 sides)
  • Debussy: String Quartet no 1 in G minor op 10 (NGS: D,E,F: 6 sides)
  • Schubert: Trio in E flat major op 100 (Dyke and Parker with Harold Craxton, piano) (NGS H,J,K,L,M: 9 sides)
  • Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht (original sextet version), with James Lockyer, viola and E.J. Robinson, cello (NGS M,N,O,P: 7 sides)
  • Mozart: Oboe Quartet in F major K 370, with Leon Goossens, oboe (NGS: N,O,P: 5 sides)
  • Bach: Cantata no 156, Arioso, with Leon Goossens, oboe (NGS, one side)
  • Beethoven: Quartet in F major op 59 no 1 (NGS, 10 sides)
  • Brahms: String Sextet no 1 in G major op 18, with J. Lockyer and E.J. Robinson (NGS, 9 sides)
  • Tomlinson: A Lament (NGS: 1 side)
  • Elgar: Piano Quintet in A minor op 84, with Ethel Hobday, piano (NGS: 10 sides)
  • Brahms: Clarinet Quintet op 115, with Frederick Thurston, clarinet (NGS: 9 sides)
  • Glière: String Quartet in A major op 2, Allegro (NGS: 1 side)
  • Mozart: Clarinet Quintet in A major K 581, with Charles Draper, clarinet (NGS: 7 sides)
  • Mozart: Duet no 1 in G (Dyke-Tomlinson) (NGS: 1 side)
  • Schubert: Quartet no 13 in A minor op 29 (NGS: 9 sides)
  • Mendelssohn: Quartet in A minor op 42 no 2, Scherzo (NGS: 1 side)
  • Beethoven: String Quartet no 16 in F major op 135 (NGS: 6 sides)
  • Dvořák: Piano Quintet in A major op 81 with Ethel Bartlett, piano (NGS: 9 sides)
  • Joseph Speight: Shakespeare Fairy Characters 1st series no 2, 'The Lonely Shepherd' (NGS: 1 side).
  • Brahms: Piano Quartet in C minor op 60, with Olive Bloom (and Bernard Shore, viola) (NGS 88-91)
  • Brahms: Sextet for strings no 2 in G op 36, with J. Lockyer and E.J. Robinson (NGS 105-108)


  • A. Eaglefield-Hull, A Dictionary of Modern Music and Musicians (Dent, London 1924).
  • R.D. Darrell, The Gramophone Shop Encyclopedia of Recorded Music (New York 1936).
  • Recordings of the National Gramophonic Society.

See also[edit]