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orchestra

orchestra (Fr. orchestre, Ger. Orchester). A mixed body of instrumentalists for the perf. of symphonic and other works. There are various types of orch., e.g. symphony orchestra, a body of (usually) over 90 players able to play elaborate works; chamber orchestra, small version of above (from, say, 15 to 45 players); string orchestra, strings only; theatre orchestra, medium-size orch. used for musicals, etc., and often incl. saxs.

The orch. has changed and developed over the centuries, the standard version today comprising str., woodwind, brass, and perc. In the 17th cent. the orch. was a haphazard affair, often incl. viols, fls., obs., cornetts, tbs., drums, and hpd. In the 18th cent., with instr. improvements, vns. ousted viols. Accs. were realized by the harpsichordist or org. from a figured bass. From c.1800, the orch. became more elaborate and composers more skilled in its use, obtaining tone-colour by subtle combinations and by solo passages. In Beethoven's 1st Sym. (1800) the orch. consisted of: vns., div. into 1st and 2nd sections, vas., vcs., dbs., fls., obs., cls., bns., tpts., hns., timp. Later composers added the harp and Berlioz enlarged the woodwind, brass, and perc. departments, as did Wagner and Liszt. Towards the end of the 19th and in the 20th cents., composers enlarged the orch. enormously, and we have the marvellously rich, exotic, and grandiose orch. works of Strauss, Mahler, Elgar, Havergal Brian, Ravel, Stravinsky, and many more. Huge brass sections are often a feature of their scores, with triple or quadruple woodwind (i.e. 3 or 4 of each instr.). Later in the 20th cent. even more variety in orch. use is encountered, with reversions to small combinations of instr., works scored for solo instr. and wind or brass instr. only, exotic perc. effects, and of course the addition of elec. instr., tape-recorded and synthesized effects.

The lay-out of the standard sym. orch. is normally as shown in the diagram opposite, but certain works call for special seating arrangements and some conds. have individual preferences.

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orchestra

or·ches·tra / ˈôrkistrə; -ˌkestrə/ • n. 1. a group of instrumentalists, esp. one combining string, woodwind, brass, and percussion sections and playing classical music. 2. (also orchestra pit) the part of a theater where the orchestra plays, typically in front of the stage and on a lower level than the audience. ∎  the seats on the ground floor in a theater. 3. the semicircular space in front of an ancient Greek theater stage where the chorus danced and sang. ORIGIN: early 17th cent.: via Latin from Greek orkhēstra, from orkheisthai ‘to dance.’

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orchestra

orchestra Group of musicians who play together. During the 17th century, string orchestras developed out of viol consorts; in the 18th century, some wind instruments were added. The woodwind section was soon established and, by the end of the 19th century, the brass section was too. Modern orchestras consist of between 80 and 120 players divided into sections: stringed instruments (violin, viola, cello, double bass, and harp); woodwind (flute, oboe, clarinet, and bassoon); brass (trumpet, trombone, French horn, and tuba) and percussion.

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orchestra

orchestra in the ancient Gr. theatre, semicircular area for the chorus XVII; part of a theatre, etc., assigned to musicians; band of musicians itself XVIII. — L. orchēstra — Gr. orkhḗstrā, f. orkheîsthai dance.
Hence orchestral XIX.

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Orchestra

Orchestra

a group of performers on various instruments, 1720; the collective sound which is reminiscent of an orchestra playing, as the sound of the sea or the wind.

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orchestra

orchestraairer, bearer, carer, Clara, darer, declarer, Demerara, Éire, habanera, Halmahera, parer, Perak, primavera, repairer, Rivera, Riviera, Sarah, scarer, sharer, snarer, sparer, squarer, starer, swearer, tearer, wearer •cause célèbre • torch-bearer •swordbearer • pallbearer • wayfarer •seafarer • capoeira • Phaedra •sacra, simulacra •Libra, vers libre •ex cathedra •chypre, Yprespalaestra (US palestra) • urethra •joie de vivre •mirror, sirrah •Coimbra • Middlesbrough • Indra •Sintra •aspidistra, sistra •algebra • orchestra • vertebra •Beira, Fujairah, Hegira, Lyra, Myra, naira, palmyra, spirogyra •Hydra • Lycra •begorra, Gomorrah, horror •double entendre • genre • amour propre • Le Nôtre • contra •Cosa Nostra, rostra

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