Romantic Era Orchestra

In the nineteenth century, the orchestra not only grew in size and instrument variety, it expanded beyond aristocratic circles and court performances, and became a public institution. As such, independent orchestras arose as bona fide arts organizations in major cities throughout Europe. In the mid to late nineteenth century, orchestras were also formed in the New World. These included The New York Philharmonic, The Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and The Montreal Symphony Orchestra. Given this proliferation, the profession of “orchestral musician” was legitimized with regular wages, and later on, the support of music unions.

In 1859 Russia, The Russian Music Society (an organization that was part music school part performing arts ensemble) promoted the symphonies of Beethoven and eventually homegrown composers Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Conductor Mily Balakirev premiered many new works of the period. A member of the Russian Mighty Handful, Balakirev vigorously supported the nationalistic music of Russia.

Then, as now, there were two categories of orchestras: concert orchestras (with a preplanned season and/or concert series) and theatre orchestras designed for opera and other vocal styles. It was during the Romantic Period that these distinctions first materialized gradually over time.

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