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Music History

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An orchestra is an organized body of bowed string instruments, with more than one player to a part, to which may be added wind and percussion instruments.In the Greek theater the term denoted the semi-circular space in front of the stage where the chorus sang and danced; in the Roman theater is was reserved for the Senators' seats,

Throughout the years the size and strength of orchestras across the world have varied. In the mid-18th century the orchestra of the Berlin Opera had 12 violins, 4 violas, 4 cellos, and 3 double basses; 4 flutes, 4 oboes, and pairs of bassoons and horns. Such instruments as trumpets and drums were engaged as needed. A century later in Dresden the court orchestra employed 16 violins--4 each of violas, cellos, and double basses; 4 each of flutes, oboes, and clarinets and 3 bassoons; 5 horns, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, and timpani. During the same time the London Philharmonic seemed to strive for a far richer sound, engaging 16 first violins, 16 second violins, 10 violas, 8 cellos, and 7 double basses; 3 flutes and pairs of oboes, clarinets, and bassoons; 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, and timpani.

Between Beethoven's first and ninth symphonies (1800 and 1823) and Schubert's first and ninth (1813 and 1828), the concept of the symphony orchestra was expanded and enlarged. Over the course of the three decades, the orchestra became a vehicle for expressing a composer's most serious thoughts and not simply an instrument heard in secondary role in the church, the theater, and at festive entertainment's. But in the later 19th century such symphonic composers as Anton Bruckner (1824--96) and Gustav Mahler (1860--1911) significantly expanded the orchestra's size.

Orchestra sizes reached its highest in the early 20th century with such works as Arnold Schoenberg's 'Gurrelieder' (1901), scored for massive orchestra, and Gustav Mahler's ' Symphony No. 8 ', the "Symphony of a Thousand." The American composer Roger Sessions wrote his 'Symphony No. 2' (1946) for the 100-plus members of the New York Philharmonic, and the spirit of this lush, romantic work was carried on in the 1960s and 1970s by such composers as David del Tredici and Jacob Druckman, whose works are said to belong to the "new romanticism."

Because wind parts are performed by a single musician apiece, the number of wind players has remained minimal since the



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