The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: How did the modern symphony orchestra get arranged the way it is? | May 6, 2017

By Jacob Stockinger

This weekend the Madison Symphony Orchestra (below, seen from above) closes its season.

For information about the program, the performers, the performances and tickets, go to:

But while you are watching and listening, you might wonder: How did the modern orchestra get to be arranged the way it is?

And here is a concise explanation of that evolution:


1 Comment »

  1. One of the questions (not answered) in the article is, why have a conductor at all? The conductor is almost always the highest paid (by far) person associated with the orchestra, and I wonder if a conductor is really necessary these days and whether they are worth it.

    I think there are two viable options: 1) giving the concertmaster greater powers 2) having “guest conductors” rather than a permanent one. I guess I favor the latter solution (one that the St. Paul Orchestra used recently).

    I believe this gives the group and its musicians more variety and more to chose from in leadership.

    I also think it is a mistake to have a maestro around for more than 7-8 years and results in stultified programming and inbreeding.

    Comment by FFlambeau — May 6, 2017 @ 2:57 am

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