Although by the sixteenth century, there was already a corpus of secular instrumental music, it was relatively small in comparison to the riches of choral music that had been funded by the Church. The increasing support of secular arts, particularly opera and dance, necessitated accompaniment by instrumental groups. The vast majority of these groups were transitory, but by the early seventeenth century, numerous permanent ensembles had already made their debut.
Since the fifteenth century, a wide variety of instrument combinations have been quite fashionable. Some of them were termed consorts, and they all belonged to the same instrument family, like the viol or recorder families. A ‘broken’ consort may incorporate instruments from various families in order to give a very monotonous sound a more vivacious personality.
A chamber orchestra is a term that refers to an orchestra that has around fifty performers or less and is of a more compact size. These modifications do not necessarily suggest any strict distinction either in the instrumental constitution or involvement of the orchestra; however, they can be helpful in distinguishing different ensembles that are based in the very same city. A full-size orchestra consists of approximately one hundred players, and it may be referred to as a “symphony orchestra” or a “philharmonic orchestra” (. In most cases, a symphony orchestra will have more than eighty orchestra musicians on its roster, and in some cases, it will have more than a hundred. However, the exact figure of musicians engaged in a particular song may vary depending on the piece being played and also the size of the venue in which it is being performed. Some of the greatest chamber orchestras have as few as ten players, while others have as many as fifty. And some are much fewer than that.
Instruments such as the violin, viola, bass, oboe, trumpet, as well as percussion are typical examples of those found in a symphony orchestra. There are still quite a few orchestras that are quite well-known all over the world and are able to perform to sold-out crowds in significant outdoor and indoor venues. Students start learning about the development of the symphony orchestra as early as elementary school, and those who go on to study music go on to study compositions written by some of the most well-known orchestral composers. The orchestra is a musical art form that has earned a lot of respect throughout the years among orchestra musicians, scholars, and students, and its heritage is still carried on today. People who are interested in learning more about the symphony orchestra must research the composers as well as orchestra musicians who were instrumental in the development and evolution of the culture around the orchestra. They should also get an understanding of the distinctive characteristics of the art form, as well as its evolution over the period of a few centuries.
The composers Ludwig van Beethoven and Hector Berlioz, who are the forerunners of the bigger-is-better philosophy that would carry us through to the beginning of the twentieth century, experimented with a wide variety of techniques to expand the size and dynamic range of the orchestra, which will reach a size of at least one hundred players by the time the 19th century comes to a close.
That’s also the time because all of the most impressive concert halls are constructed. To mention just a few, the Musikverein in Vienna first opened its doors in 1870, followed by the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in 1888, Massey Hall in Toronto in 1894, and Symphony Hall in Boston in 1900.
The 19th century was also the time when orchestras transitioned from being organizations that were employed by nobles, monarchs, and opera houses to institutions of their own right, arranging their own performance seasons, selling subscriptions, and earning money to keep the organization running. The new performance halls are a significant step toward institutionalizing the orchestra.
In addition to this, it is at this period that the concept of an essential repertoire first emerges. Prior to the 19th century, orchestras performed only newly composed music. After then, individuals like Felix Mendelssohn came along or rekindled people’s interest in J. S. Bach’s music. There were symphonies by Mozart and Haydn that needed to be programmed, and the works of Beethoven have never been taken out of circulation.