The Melos Quartet is one of the leading and longest-established string quartets of the world, and is particularly known for a warm, romantic sound without overstatement of emotionality, a strong grasp of form, and highly accurate, assured playing.
Its founders were four string players who already had important careers as soloists and orchestral musicians. They were:
Wilhelm Melcher of Hamburg (b. April 5, 1940), winner of the 1962 International Chamber Music Competition of Venice and concertmaster of the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra since 1963.
Gerhard Ernst Voss, the second violinist, born in Brushed, Germany on December 17, 1939 and Hermann Voss, born in Brünen on July 9, 1934, were brothers who studied at Cologne. Hermann was the solo violist of the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra while Gerhard was a member of the Würtemberg Chamber Orchestra.
Cellist Peter Buck was also a member of the Würtemberg Chamber Orchestra. He studied at Düsseldorf and at Freiberg. (He should not be confused with another musician with the same name, Peter Buck of the U.S. rock group R.E.M.)
The Melos Quartet started winning awards almost as soon as it was formed in 1965. In 1966 it won the Geneva International Competition with a prize for Best Quartet, and an award at the Villa-Lobos String Quartet Competition of Rio de Janeiro. In 1966 it was sent to represent West Germany at the Jeunesses Musicales of Paris.
In 1967 its members decided to resign from their various orchestral positions in order to concentrate on quartet music full time. Since then it has toured extensively, recorded frequently, and become of the best-known quartets in the world. In 1993 Gerhard Voss left the quartet and was replaced by Ida Bieler, soloist of the Villa Musica Ensemble and Professor of Robert Schumann Akadamie of Düsseldorf.