Orchestra Essay

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Musical leadership in the Baroque orchestra came from the keyboard instruments, with the harpsichordist, or sometimes the organist, acting as leader. In the Baroque era, a musical director occasionally stood and conducted, but not in the way we're used to seeing.

Jean-Baptiste Lully, who was in charge of music at the French court in the 1600s, used to pound out the beat for his musicians using a sort of long pole, which he tapped on the floor.

Some composers, such as Berlioz, really went all-out writing for huge orchestras.

Instrument design and construction got better and better, making new instruments such as the piccolo and the tuba available for orchestras.

They meant for the parts to be played by whatever was around.

But around 1600 in Italy, the composer Claudio Monteverdi liked things just so.You might see a hugely expanded percussion section, or lots and lots of woodwinds and brasses.But the orchestra still takes more or less the same form: a big string section, with smaller sections for brasses, woodwinds, percussion, harps and keyboard instruments. By the 1500s, the time known as the Renaissance, the word "consort" was used to mean a group of instrumentalists, and sometimes singers too, making music together or "in concert".Early Renaissance composers usually didn't say what instrument they were writing a part for.In support of this project, The Cleveland Orchestra Archives is pleased to offer a series of online essays designed to enrich the concert experience and to provide in-depth historical information for anyone interested in the Orchestra’s performance history and its archival audio recordings of Beethoven repertoire.Essay link below include links to the Orchestra’s rich audio legacy to the Prometheus cycle.Prometheus was the last of the Titans in Greek mythology.He sided with the younger upstart gods, led by Zeus, in their war against the Titans.Composers began to write for the specific instrument they had in mind.This meant knowing each instrument's individual "language" and knowing what kind of music would sound best and play easiest on a particular instrument.


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