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ORCHESTRAS

Orchestra: The term is used to describe a large ensemble of musicians separated into different sections. Orchestras can be characterized according to their composition as: symphony, chamber, woodwinds, brass, and according to their function they can also be named opera-, church-, radio-, etc.

 Instruments: A typical orchestra consists of the following groups of instruments:

- Strings: violins (I and II), violas, cellos, double basses
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Woodwinds: piccolo, flutes (3), oboes (3), English horn, clarinets (3), bass clarinet, bassoons (3), contra bassoon
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Brass: horns (6), trumpets (4), trombones (4), tuba
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Percussion: timpani, snare drum, tenor drum, bass drum, cymbals, triangle, wood block, tambourine, marimba, vibraphone, xylophone, glockenspiel, gong (tam-tam), tubular bells, etc.
- On occasion orchestras can also include: harps (2), piano, saxophone, pipe organ
These categories are not absolute. According to the needs of an individual work, a group can be added or removed.

Historical elements: In ancient Greece the orchestra represented the part of the theater reserved for the "choros", a group of dancers a singers that were commented the play. (orchisis = dance). The term is not used in the Middle Ages since there were only small ensembles at that time. In mid 17th century, the Baroque orchestra appears and gives a dominant role to string instruments. The conductor leads the ensemble from the cembalo.
The classic orchestra evolves during the second half of the 18th century in Paris and Mannheim. Its characteristic sound consists of a four-instrument string group and the double woodwinds. During the late 18th century, other instruments were also included (Beethoven) and essentially assumed its present form. In the 19th century, the grand symphony orchestra expanded significantly, originally by Wagner who used brass instruments and finally with Schoenberg who used more than 100 musicians. In the 20th century the percussions’ group was also enriched.

Today, the form of an orchestra varies according to the individual composer and can also include electrophones and tapes.

Greek Orchestras

Early symphonic orchestras started to appear in Ionian islands were there was a big influence from Italy. In the rest of Greece big orchestras start to appear by the end of 19th century.

Grand Orchestras

Smaller Orchestras

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