Symphony Orchestra

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Danish National Symphony Orchestra at the Copenhagen Concert Hall, 2019.

An orchestra (/ˈɔːrkɪstrə/Italian: [orˈkɛstra]) is a large instrumental ensemble typical of classical music, which combines instruments from different families, including bowed string instruments such as the violinviolacello, and double basswoodwinds such as the fluteoboeclarinet and bassoonbrass instruments such as the horntrumpettrombone and tuba, and percussion instruments such as the timpanibass drumtrianglesnare drumcymbals, and mallet percussion instruments each grouped in sections. Other instruments such as the piano and celesta may sometimes appear in a fifth keyboard section or may stand alone, as may the concert harp and, for performances of some modern compositions, electronic instruments.

A full-size Western orchestra may sometimes be called a symphony orchestra or philharmonic orchestra (from Greek phil-, “loving”, and “harmonic”). The actual number of musicians employed in a given performance may vary from seventy to over one hundred musicians, depending on the work being played and the size of the venue. A chamber orchestra (sometimes concert orchestra) is a smaller ensemble of not more than about fifty musicians. Orchestras that specialize in the Baroque music of, for example, Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel, or Classical repertoire, such as that of Haydn and Mozart, tend to be smaller than orchestras performing a Romantic music repertoire, such as the symphonies of Johannes Brahms. The typical orchestra grew in size throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, reaching a peak with the large orchestras (of as many as 120 players) called for in the works of Richard Wagner, and later, Gustav Mahler.

Orchestras are usually led by a conductor who directs the performance with movements of the hands and arms, often made easier for the musicians to see by use of a conductor’s baton. The conductor unifies the orchestra, sets the tempo and shapes the sound of the ensemble. The conductor also prepares the orchestra by leading rehearsals before the public concert, in which the conductor provides instructions to the musicians on their interpretation of the music being performed.

The leader of the first violin section, commonly called the concertmaster, also plays an important role in leading the musicians. In the Baroque music era (1600–1750), orchestras were often led by the concertmaster or by a chord-playing musician performing the basso continuo parts on a harpsichord or pipe organ, a tradition that some 20th-century and 21st-century early music ensembles continue. Orchestras play a wide range of repertoire, including symphonies, opera and ballet overturesconcertos for solo instruments, and as pit ensembles for operasballets, and some types of musical theatre (e.g., Gilbert and Sullivan operettas).

Amateur orchestras include those made up of students from an elementary school or a high school, youth orchestras, and community orchestras; the latter two typically being made up of amateur musicians from a particular city or region.

The term orchestra derives from the Greek ὀρχήστρα (orchestra), the name for the area in front of a stage in ancient Greek theatre reserved for the Greek chorus.

Read more here: Orchestra – Wikipedia

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Orchestra playing in a dry dock at Orskov Yard in Frederikshavn, Denmark 2009.

Deutsche Oper Berlin – Wikipedia

Berlin Philharmonic – Wikipedia

Vienna Philharmonic – Wikipedia


During the war, the festival was turned over to the NSDAP Party, which continued to sponsor operas for wounded soldiers returning from the front. These soldiers were forced to attend lectures on Wagner before the performances, and most found the festival to be tedious. However, as “guests of the Führer”, none complained.

Bayreuth Festival – Wikipedia

Richard Wagner

The NSDAP fascination with Wagner was largely inspired by Hitler, sometimes to the dismay of other high-ranking NSDAP officials, including Joseph Goebbels. In 1933, for instance, Hitler ordered that each Nuremberg Rally open with a performance of the overture from Rienzi. He also issued one thousand free tickets for an annual Bayreuth performance of Meistersinger to NSDAP functionaries. When Hitler entered the theater, however, he discovered that it was almost empty. The following year, those functionaries were ordered to attend, but they could be seen dozing off during the performance, so that in 1935, Hitler conceded and released the tickets to the public.

Wagner – Wikipedia

Royal Danish Theatre, Copenhagen.jpg

The Royal Danish Theatre (RDTDanishDet Kongelige Teater). Gammel scene or Old Stage at Kongens Nytorv, home of the Royal Danish Orchestra since 1874.

The orchestra traces its origins back to 1448 and the Trumpet Corps at the royal court of King Christian I, and thus has claims to be the oldest orchestra in the world.

Royal Danish Theatre – Wikipedia

Red with a white cross that extends to the edges of the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist side

List of symphony orchestras

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