An orchestra (/ˈɔːrkɪstrə/; Italian: [orˈkɛstra]) is a large instrumental ensemble typical of classical music, which mixes instruments from different families, including bowed string instruments such as violin, viola, cello, and double bass, as well as brass, woodwinds, and percussion instruments, each grouped in sections. Other instruments such as the piano and celesta may sometimes appear in a fifth keyboard section or may stand alone, as may the concert harp and, for performances of some modern compositions, electronic instruments.
A full-size orchestra may sometimes be called a symphony orchestra or philharmonic orchestra. The actual number of musicians employed in a given performance may vary from seventy to over one hundred musicians, depending on the work being played and the size of the venue. The term chamber orchestra (and sometimes concert orchestra) usually refers to smaller-sized ensembles of about fifty musicians or fewer. Orchestras that specialize in the Baroque music of, for example, Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel, or Classical repertoire, such as that of Haydn and Mozart, tend to be smaller than orchestras performing a Romantic music repertoire, such as the symphonies of Johannes Brahms. The typical orchestra grew in size throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, reaching a peak with the large orchestras (of as many as 120 players) called for in the works of Richard Wagner, and later, Gustav Mahler.
Orchestras are usually led by a conductor who directs the performance with movements of the hands and arms, often made easier for the musicians to see by use of a conductor's baton. The conductor unifies the orchestra, sets the tempo and shapes the sound of the ensemble. The conductor also prepares the orchestra by leading rehearsals before the public concert, in which the conductor provides instructions to the musicians on their interpretation of the music being performed.
The leader of the first violin section, commonly called the concertmaster, also plays an important role in leading the musicians. In the Baroque music era (1600–1750), orchestras were often led by the concertmaster or by a chord-playing musician performing the basso continuo parts on a harpsichord or pipe organ, a tradition that some 20th century and 21st century early music ensembles continue. Orchestras play a wide range of repertoire, including symphonies, opera and ballet overtures, concertos for solo instruments, and as pit ensembles for operas, ballets, and some types of musical theatre (e.g., Gilbert and Sullivan operettas).
Amateur orchestras include those made up of students from an elementary school or a high school, youth orchestras, and community orchestras; the latter two typically being made up of amateur musicians from a particular city or region.
The typical symphony orchestra consists of four groups of related musical instruments called the woodwinds, brass, percussion, and strings (violin, viola, cello and double bass). Other instruments such as the piano and celesta may sometimes be grouped into a fifth section such as a keyboard section or may stand alone, as may the concert harp and electric and electronic instruments. The orchestra, depending on the size, contains almost all of the standard instruments in each group.
In the history of the orchestra, its instrumentation has been expanded over time, often agreed to have been standardized by the classical period and Ludwig van Beethoven's influence on the classical model. In the 20th and 21st century, new repertory demands expanded the instrumentation of the orchestra, resulting in a flexible use of the classical-model instruments and newly developed electric and electronic instruments in various combinations.
The terms symphony orchestra and philharmonic orchestra may be used to distinguish different ensembles from the same locality, such as the London Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. A symphony orchestra will usually have over eighty musicians on its roster, in some cases over a hundred, but the actual number of musicians employed in a particular performance may vary according to the work being played and the size of the venue.
Chamber orchestra usually refers to smaller-sized ensembles; a major chamber orchestra might employ as many as fifty musicians; some are much smaller than that. The term concert orchestra may also be used, as in the BBC Concert Orchestra and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.
The so-called "standard complement" of doubled winds and brass in the orchestra from the first half of the 19th century is generally attributed to the forces called for by Beethoven. The composer's instrumentation almost always included paired flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns and trumpets. The exceptions to this are his Symphony No. 4, Violin Concerto, and Piano Concerto No. 4, which each specify a single flute. Beethoven carefully calculated the expansion of this particular timbral "palette" in Symphonies 3, 5, 6, and 9 for an innovative effect. The third horn in the "Eroica" Symphony arrives to provide not only some harmonic flexibility, but also the effect of "choral" brass in the Trio movement. Piccolo, contrabassoon, and trombones add to the triumphal finale of his Symphony No. 5. A piccolo and a pair of trombones help deliver the effect of storm and sunshine in the Sixth, also known as the Pastoral Symphony. The Ninth asks for a second pair of horns, for reasons similar to the "Eroica" (four horns has since become standard); Beethoven's use of piccolo, contrabassoon, trombones, and untuned percussion—plus chorus and vocal soloists—in his finale, are his earliest suggestion that the timbral boundaries of symphony might be expanded. For several decades after his death, symphonic instrumentation was faithful to Beethoven's well-established model, with few exceptions.
Apart from the core orchestral complement, various other instruments are called for occasionally. These include the flugelhorn and cornet. Saxophones and classical guitars, for example, appear in some 19th- through 21st-century scores. While appearing only as featured solo instruments in some works, for example Maurice Ravel's orchestration of Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and Sergei Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances, the saxophone is included in other works, such as Ravel's Boléro, Sergei Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet Suites 1 and 2, Vaughan Williams' Symphonies No.6 and 9 and William Walton's Belshazzar's Feast, and many other works as a member of the orchestral ensemble. The euphonium is featured in a few late Romantic and 20th-century works, usually playing parts marked "tenor tuba", including Gustav Holst's The Planets, and Richard Strauss's Ein Heldenleben. The Wagner tuba, a modified member of the horn family, appears in Richard Wagner's cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen and several other works by Strauss, Béla Bartók, and others; it has a prominent role in Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 in E Major. Cornets appear in Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake, Claude Debussy's La Mer, and several orchestral works by Hector Berlioz. Unless these instruments are played by members "doubling" on another instrument (for example, a trombone player changing to euphonium or a bassoon player switching to contrabassoon for a certain passage), orchestras typically hire freelance musicians to augment their regular ensemble.
The 20th-century orchestra was far more flexible than its predecessors. In Beethoven's and Felix Mendelssohn's time, the orchestra was composed of a fairly standard core of instruments, which was very rarely modified by composers. As time progressed, and as the Romantic period saw changes in accepted modification with composers such as Berlioz and Mahler; some composers used multiple harps and sound effect such as the wind machine. During the 20th century, the modern orchestra was generally standardized with the modern instrumentation listed below. Nevertheless, by the mid- to late 20th century, with the development of contemporary classical music, instrumentation could practically be hand-picked by the composer (e.g., to add electric instruments such as electric guitar, electronic instruments such as synthesizers, non-Western instruments, or other instruments not traditionally used in orchestra).
With this history in mind, the orchestra can be analysed in five periods: the Baroque era, the Classical music period, early/mid-Romantic music era, late-Romantic/early 20th century music and 21st century era. The first is a Baroque orchestra (i.e., J.S. Bach, Handel, Vivaldi), which generally had a smaller number of performers, and in which one or more chord-playing instruments, the basso continuo group (e.g., harpsichord or pipe organ and assorted bass instruments to perform the bassline), played an important role; the second is a typical classical period orchestra (e.g., early Beethoven along with Mozart and Haydn), which used a smaller group of performers than a Romantic music orchestra and a fairly standardized instrumentation; the third is typical of an early/mid-Romantic era (e.g., Schubert, Berlioz, Schumann); the fourth is a late-Romantic/early 20th century orchestra (e.g., Wagner, Brahms, Mahler, Stravinsky), to the common complement of a 2010-era modern orchestra (e.g., Adams, Barber, Aaron Copland, Glass, Penderecki).
Among the instrument groups and within each group of instruments, there is a generally accepted hierarchy. Every instrumental group (or section) has a principal who is generally responsible for leading the group and playing orchestral solos. The violins are divided into two groups, first violin and second violin, with the second violins playing in lower registers than the first violins, playing an accompaniment part, or harmonizing the melody played by the first violins. The principal first violin is called the concertmaster (or "leader" in the UK) and is not only considered the leader of the string section, but the second-in-command of the entire orchestra, behind only the conductor. The concertmaster leads the pre-concert tuning and handles musical aspects of orchestra management, such as determining the bowings for the violins or for all of the string section. The concertmaster usually sits to the conductor's left, closest to the audience. There is also a principal second violin, a principal viola, a principal cello and a principal bass.
The principal trombone is considered the leader of the low brass section, while the principal trumpet is generally considered the leader of the entire brass section. While the oboe often provides the tuning note for the orchestra (due to 300-year-old convention), no principal is the leader of the woodwind section though in woodwind ensembles, often the flute is leader. Instead, each principal confers with the others as equals in the case of musical differences of opinion. Most sections also have an assistant principal (or co-principal or associate principal), or in the case of the first violins, an assistant concertmaster, who often plays a tutti part in addition to replacing the principal in his or her absence.
A section string player plays in unison with the rest of the section, except in the case of divided (divisi) parts, where upper and lower parts in the music are often assigned to "outside" (nearer the audience) and "inside" seated players. Where a solo part is called for in a string section, the section leader invariably plays that part. The section leader (or principal) of a string section is also responsible for determining the bowings, often based on the bowings set out by the concertmaster. In some cases, the principal of a string section may use a slightly different bowing than the concertmaster, to accommodate the requirements of playing their instrument (e.g., the double-bass section). Principals of a string section will also lead entrances for their section, typically by lifting the bow before the entrance, to ensure the section plays together. Tutti wind and brass players generally play a unique but non-solo part. Section percussionists play parts assigned to them by the principal percussionist.
In modern times, the musicians are usually directed by a conductor, although early orchestras did not have one, giving this role instead to the concertmaster or the harpsichordist playing the continuo. Some modern orchestras also do without conductors, particularly smaller orchestras and those specializing in historically accurate (so-called "period") performances of baroque and earlier music.
The most frequently performed repertoire for a symphony orchestra is Western classical music or opera. However, orchestras are used sometimes in popular music (e.g., to accompany a rock or pop band in a concert), extensively in film music, and increasingly often in video game music. Orchestras are also used in the symphonic metal genre. The term "orchestra" can also be applied to a jazz ensemble, for example in the performance of big-band music.
In the 2000s, all tenured members of a professional orchestra normally audition for positions in the ensemble. Performers typically play one or more solo pieces of the auditionee's choice, such as a movement of a concerto, a solo Bach movement, and a variety of excerpts from the orchestral literature that are advertised in the audition poster (so the auditionees can prepare). The excerpts are typically the most technically challenging parts and solos from the orchestral literature. Orchestral auditions are typically held in front of a panel that includes the conductor, the concertmaster, the principal player of the section for which the auditionee is applying and possibly other principal players and regular orchestra members.
The most promising candidates from the first round of auditions are invited to return for a second or third round of auditions, which allows the conductor and the panel to compare the best candidates. Performers may be asked to sight read orchestral music. The final stage of the audition process in some orchestras is a test week, in which the performer plays with the orchestra for a week or two, which allows the conductor and principal players to see if the individual can function well in an actual rehearsal and performance setting.
There are a range of different employment arrangements. The most sought-after positions are permanent, tenured positions in the orchestra. Orchestras also hire musicians on contracts, ranging in length from a single concert to a full season or more. Contract performers may be hired for individual concerts when the orchestra is doing an exceptionally large late-Romantic era orchestral work, or to substitute for a permanent member who is sick. A professional musician who is hired to perform for a single concert is sometimes called a "sub". Some contract musicians may be hired to replace permanent members for the period that the permanent member is on parental leave or disability leave.
Historically, major professional orchestras have been mostly or entirely composed of male musicians. The first female members hired in professional orchestras have been harpists. The Vienna Philharmonic, for example, did not accept women to permanent membership until 1997, far later than comparable orchestras (the other orchestras ranked among the world’s top five by Gramophone in 2008). The last major orchestra to appoint a woman to a permanent position was the Berlin Philharmonic. In February 1996, the Vienna Philharmonic's principal flute, Dieter Flury, told Westdeutscher Rundfunk that accepting women would be "gambling with the emotional unity (emotionelle Geschlossenheit) that this organism currently has". In April 1996, the orchestra’s press secretary wrote that "compensating for the expected leaves of absence" of maternity leave would be a problem.
In 1997, the Vienna Philharmonic was "facing protests during a [US] tour" by the National Organization for Women and the International Alliance for Women in Music. Finally, "after being held up to increasing ridicule even in socially conservative Austria, members of the orchestra gathered [on 28 February 1997] in an extraordinary meeting on the eve of their departure and agreed to admit a woman, Anna Lelkes, as harpist." As of 2013, the orchestra has six female members; one of them, violinist Albena Danailova, became one of the orchestra’s concertmasters in 2008, the first woman to hold that position. In 2012, women made up 6% of the orchestra's membership. VPO president Clemens Hellsberg said the VPO now uses completely screened blind auditions.
In 2013, an article in Mother Jones stated that while "[m]any prestigious orchestras have significant female membership—women outnumber men in the New York Philharmonic's violin section—and several renowned ensembles, including the National Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony, and the Minnesota Symphony, are led by women violinists", the double bass, brass, and percussion sections of major orchestras "...are still predominantly male." A 2014 BBC article stated that the "...introduction of ‘blind’ auditions, where a prospective instrumentalist performs behind a screen so that the judging panel can exercise no gender or racial prejudice, has seen the gender balance of traditionally male-dominated symphony orchestras gradually shift."
There are also a variety of amateur orchestras:
Orchestras play a wide range of repertoire ranging from 17th-century dance suites, 18th century divertimentos to 20th century film scores and 21st-century symphonies. Orchestras have become synonymous with the symphony, an extended musical composition in Western classical music that typically contains multiple movements which provide contrasting keys and tempos. Symphonies are notated in a musical score, which contains all the instrument parts. The conductor uses the score to study the symphony before rehearsals and decide on their interpretation (e.g., tempos, articulation, phrasing, etc.), and to follow the music during rehearsals and concerts, while leading the ensemble. Orchestral musicians play from parts containing just the notated music for their instrument. A small number of symphonies also contain vocal parts (e.g., Beethoven's Ninth Symphony).
Orchestras also perform overtures, a term originally applied to the instrumental introduction to an opera. During the early Romantic era, composers such as Beethoven and Mendelssohn began to use the term to refer to independent, self-existing instrumental, programmatic works that presaged genres such as the symphonic poem, a form devised by Franz Liszt in several works that began as dramatic overtures. These were "at first undoubtedly intended to be played at the head of a programme". In the 1850s the concert overture began to be supplanted by the symphonic poem.
Orchestras also play with instrumental soloists in concertos. During concertos, the orchestra plays an accompaniment role to the soloist (e.g., a solo violinist or pianist) and, at times, introduces musical themes or interludes while the soloist is not playing. Orchestras also play during operas, ballets, some musical theatre works and some choral works (both sacred works such as Masses and secular works). In operas and ballets, the orchestra accompanies the singers and dancers, respectively, and plays overtures and interludes where the melodies played by the orchestra take centre stage.
In the Baroque era, orchestras performed in a range of venues, including at the fine houses of aristocrats, in opera halls and in churches. Some wealthy aristocrats had an orchestra in residence at their estate, to entertain them and their guests with performances. During the Classical era, as composers increasing sought out financial support from the general public, orchestra concerts were increasingly held in public concert halls, where music lovers could buy tickets to hear the orchestra. Of course, aristocratic patronage of orchestras continued during the Classical era, but this went on alongside public concerts. In the 20th and 21st century, orchestras found a new patron: governments. Many orchestras in North America and Europe receive part of their funding from national, regional level governments (e.g., state governments in the U.S.) or city governments. These government subsidies make up part of orchestra revenue, along with ticket sales, charitable donations (if the orchestra is registered as a charity) and other fundraising activities. With the invention of successive technologies, including sound recording, radio broadcasting, television broadcasting and Internet-based streaming and downloading of concert videos, orchestras have been able to find new revenue sources.
One of the "great unmentionable [topics] of orchestral playing" is "faking", the process by which an orchestral musician gives the "...impression of playing every note as written", typically for a very challenging passage that is very high or very fast, while not actually playing the notes that are in the printed music part. An article in The Strad states that all orchestral musicians, even those in the top orchestras, occasionally "fake" certain passages. One reason that musicians "fake" is because there are not enough rehearsals. Another factor is the extreme challenges in 20th century and 21st century contemporary pieces; professionals interviewed by the magazine said "faking" was "...necessary in anything from ten to almost ninety per cent of some modern works. Professional players who were interviewed were of a consensus that faking may be acceptable when a part is not written well for the instrument, but faking "just because you haven’t practised" the music is not acceptable.
The invention of the piston and rotary valve by Heinrich Stölzel and Friedrich Blühmel, both Silesians, in 1815, was the first in a series of innovations which impacted the orchestra, including the development of modern keywork for the flute by Theobald Boehm and the innovations of Adolphe Sax in the woodwinds, notably the invention of the saxophone. These advances would lead Hector Berlioz to write a landmark book on instrumentation, which was the first systematic treatise on the use of instrumental sound as an expressive element of music.
The next major expansion of symphonic practice came from Richard Wagner's Bayreuth orchestra, founded to accompany his musical dramas. Wagner's works for the stage were scored with unprecedented scope and complexity: indeed, his score to Das Rheingold calls for six harps. Thus, Wagner envisioned an ever-more-demanding role for the conductor of the theatre orchestra, as he elaborated in his influential work On Conducting. This brought about a revolution in orchestral composition, and set the style for orchestral performance for the next eighty years. Wagner's theories re-examined the importance of tempo, dynamics, bowing of string instruments and the role of principals in the orchestra. Conductors who studied his methods would go on to be influential themselves.
As the early 20th century dawned, symphony orchestras were larger, better funded, and better trained than ever before; consequently, composers could compose larger and more ambitious works. The influence of Gustav Mahler was particularly innovational; in his later symphonies, such as the mammoth Symphony No. 8, Mahler pushes the furthest boundaries of orchestral size, employing huge forces. By the late Romantic era, orchestras could support the most enormous forms of symphonic expression, with huge string sections, massive brass sections and an expanded range of percussion instruments. With the recording era beginning, the standards of performance were pushed to a new level, because a recorded symphony could be listened to closely and even minor errors in intonation or ensemble, which might not be noticeable in a live performance, could be heard by critics. As recording technologies improved over the 20th and 21st centuries, eventually small errors in a recording could be "fixed" by audio editing or overdubbing. Some older conductors and composers could remember a time when simply "getting through" the music as best as possible was the standard. Combined with the wider audience made possible by recording, this led to a renewed focus on particular star conductors and on a high standard of orchestral execution.
With the advent of the early music movement, smaller orchestras where players worked on execution of works in styles derived from the study of older treatises on playing became common. These include the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the London Classical Players under the direction of Sir Roger Norrington and the Academy of Ancient Music under Christopher Hogwood, among others.
In the United States, the late 20th century saw a crisis of funding and support for orchestras. The size and cost of a symphony orchestra, compared to the size of the base of supporters, became an issue that struck at the core of the institution. Few orchestras could fill auditoriums, and the time-honored season-subscription system became increasingly anachronistic, as more and more listeners would buy tickets on an ad hoc basis for individual events. Orchestral endowments and—more centrally to the daily operation of American orchestras—orchestral donors have seen investment portfolios shrink or produce lower yields, reducing the ability of donors to contribute; further, there has been a trend toward donors finding other social causes more compelling. Also, while government funding is less central to American than European orchestras, cuts in such funding are still significant for American ensembles. Finally, the drastic falling-off of revenues from recording, tied to no small extent to changes in the recording industry itself, began a period of change that has yet to reach its conclusion.
U.S. orchestras that have gone into Chapter 11 bankruptcy include the Philadelphia Orchestra (in April 2011), and the Louisville Orchestra, in December 2010; orchestras that have gone into Chapter 7 bankruptcy and have ceased operations include the Northwest Chamber Orchestra in 2006, the Honolulu Orchestra in March 2011, the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra in April 2011, and the Syracuse Symphony in June 2011. The Festival of Orchestras in Orlando, Florida ceased operations at the end of March, 2011.
One source of financial difficulties that received notice and criticism was high salaries for music directors of US orchestras, which led several high-profile conductors to take pay cuts in recent years. Music administrators such as Michael Tilson Thomas and Esa-Pekka Salonen argued that new music, new means of presenting it, and a renewed relationship with the community could revitalize the symphony orchestra. The American critic Greg Sandow has argued in detail that orchestras must revise their approach to music, performance, the concert experience, marketing, public relations, community involvement, and presentation to bring them in line with the expectations of 21st-century audiences immersed in popular culture.
It is not uncommon for contemporary composers to use unconventional instruments, including various synthesizers, to achieve desired effects. Many, however, find more conventional orchestral configuration to provide better possibilities for color and depth. Composers like John Adams often employ Romantic-size orchestras, as in Adams' opera Nixon in China; Philip Glass and others may be more free, yet still identify size-boundaries. Glass in particular has recently turned to conventional orchestras in works like the Concerto for Cello and Orchestra and the Violin Concerto No. 2.
Along with a decrease in funding, some U.S. orchestras have reduced their overall personnel, as well as the number of players appearing in performances. The reduced numbers in performance are usually confined to the string section, since the numbers here have traditionally been flexible (as multiple players typically play from the same part).
Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance, such as an orchestral or choral concert. The primary duties of the conductor are to set the tempo, ensure correct entries by various members of the ensemble, and to "shape" the phrasing where appropriate. To convey their ideas and interpretation, a conductor communicates with their musicians primarily through hand gestures, typically though not invariably with the aid of a baton, and may use other gestures or signals, such as eye contact with relevant performers. A conductor's directions will almost invariably be supplemented or reinforced by verbal instructions or suggestions to their musicians in rehearsal prior to a performance.
The conductor typically stands on a raised podium with a large music stand for the full score, which contains the musical notation for all the instruments and voices. Since the mid-18th century, most conductors have not played an instrument when conducting, although in earlier periods of classical music history, leading an ensemble while playing an instrument was common. In Baroque music from the 1600s to the 1750s, the group would typically be led by the harpsichordist or first violinist (see concertmaster), an approach that in modern times has been revived by several music directors for music from this period. Conducting while playing a piano or synthesizer may also be done with musical theatre pit orchestras. Communication is typically non-verbal during a performance (this is strictly the case in art music, but in jazz big bands or large pop ensembles, there may be occasional spoken instructions, such as a "count in"). However, in rehearsals, frequent interruptions allow the conductor to give verbal directions as to how the music should be played or sung.
Conductors act as guides to the orchestras or choirs they conduct. They choose the works to be performed and study their scores, to which they may make certain adjustments (e.g., regarding tempo, articulation, phrasing, repetitions of sections, and so on), work out their interpretation, and relay their vision to the performers. They may also attend to organizational matters, such as scheduling rehearsals, planning a concert season, hearing auditions and selecting members, and promoting their ensemble in the media. Orchestras, choirs, concert bands and other sizable musical ensembles such as big bands are usually led by conductors.
In the Baroque music era (1600–1750), most orchestras were led by one of the musicians, typically the principal first violin, called the concertmaster. The concertmaster would lead the tempo of pieces by lifting his or her bow in a rhythmic manner. Leadership might also be provided by one of the chord-playing instrumentalists playing the basso continuo part which was the core of most Baroque instrumental ensemble pieces. Typically, this would be a harpsichord player, a pipe organist or a luteist or theorbo player. A keyboard player could lead the ensemble with his or her head, or by taking one of the hands off the keyboard to lead a more difficult tempo change. A lutenist or theorbo player could lead by lifting the instrument neck up and down to indicate the tempo of a piece, or to lead a ritard during a cadence or ending. In some works which combined choirs and instrumental ensembles, two leaders were sometimes used: a concertmaster to lead the instrumentalists and a chord-playing performer to lead the singers. During the Classical music period (ca. 1720–1800), the practice of using chordal instruments to play basso continuo was gradually phased out, and it disappeared completely by 1800. Instead, ensembles began to use conductors to lead the orchestra's tempos and playing style, while the concertmaster played an additional leadership role for the musicians, especially the string players, who imitate the bowstroke and playing style of the concertmaster, to the degree that is feasible for the different stringed instruments.
In 1922, the idea of a conductor-less orchestra was revived in post-revolutionary Soviet Union. The symphony orchestra Persimfans was formed without a conductor, because the founders believed that the ensemble should be modeled on the ideal Marxist state, in which all people are equal. As such, its members felt that there was no need to be led by the dictatorial baton of a conductor; instead they were led by a committee, which determined tempos and playing styles. Although it was a partial success within the Soviet Union, the principal difficulty with the concept was in changing tempo during performances, because even if the committee had issued a decree about where a tempo change should take place, there was no leader in the ensemble to guide this tempo change. The orchestra survived for ten years before Stalin's cultural politics disbanded it by taking away its funding.
In Western nations, some ensembles, such as the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, based in New York City, have had more success with conductorless orchestras, although decisions are likely to be deferred to some sense of leadership within the ensemble (for example, the principal wind and string players, notably the concertmaster). Others have returned to the tradition of a principal player, usually a violinist, being the artistic director and running rehearsal and leading concerts. Examples include the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Amsterdam Sinfonietta & Candida Thompson and the New Century Chamber Orchestra. As well, as part of the early music movement, some 20th and 21st century orchestras have revived the Baroque practice of having no conductor on the podium for Baroque pieces, using the concertmaster or a chord-playing basso continuo performer (e.g., harpsichord or organ) to lead the group.
Some orchestral works specify that an offstage trumpet should be used or that other instruments from the orchestra should be positioned off-stage or behind the stage, to create a haunted, mystical effect. To ensure that the offstage instrumentalist(s) play in time, sometimes a sub-conductor will be stationed offstage with a clear view of the principal conductor. Examples include the ending of "Neptune" from Gustav Holst's The Planets. The principal conductor leads the large orchestra, and the sub-conductor relays the principal conductor's tempo and gestures to the offstage musician (or musicians). One of the challenges with using two conductors is that the second conductor may get out of synchronization with the main conductor, or may mis-convey (or misunderstand) the principal conductor's gestures, which can lead to the offstage instruments being out of time. In the late 20th century and early 21st century, some orchestras use a video camera pointed at the principal conductor and a closed-circuit TV set in front of the offstage performer(s), instead of using two conductors.
The techniques of polystylism and polytempo music have led a few 20th and 21st century composers to write music where multiple orchestras or ensembles perform simultaneously. These trends have brought about the phenomenon of polyconductor music, wherein separate sub-conductors conduct each group of musicians. Usually, one principal conductor conducts the sub-conductors, thereby shaping the overall performance. In Percy Grainger's "The Warriors" which includes three conductors: the primary conductor of the orchestra, a secondary conductor directing an off-stage brass ensemble, and a tertiary conductor directing percussion and harp. One example in the late century orchestral music is Karlheinz Stockhausen's Gruppen, for three orchestras, which are placed around the audience. This way, the "sound masses" could be spacialized, as in an electroacoustic work. Gruppen was premiered in Cologne, in 1958, conducted by Stockhausen, Bruno Maderna and Pierre Boulez. It has been performed by Simon Rattle, John Carewe and Daniel Harding.
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The 61st Annual Grammy Awards ceremony was held on February 10, 2019, at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Singer-songwriter Alicia Keys hosted.The ceremony recognized the best recordings, compositions, and artists of the eligibility year, which ran from October 1, 2017, to September 30, 2018. Nominations were announced on December 7, 2018.
Dolly Parton was honored as the MusiCares Person of the Year two days prior to the Grammy Awards on February 8, 2019.Kendrick Lamar received the most nominations category with eight. Childish Gambino and Kacey Musgraves tied for the most wins of the night with four each.Barry White
Barry Eugene Carter (September 12, 1944 – July 4, 2003), better known by his stage name Barry White, was an American singer-songwriter, musician, record producer and composer.
A three-time Grammy Award–winner known for his distinctive bass-baritone voice and romantic image, his greatest success came in the 1970s as a solo singer and with The Love Unlimited Orchestra, crafting many enduring soul, funk, and disco songs such as his two biggest hits: "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" and "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe".
During the course of his career in the music business, White achieved 106 gold albums worldwide, 41 of which also attained platinum status. White had 20 gold and 10 platinum singles, with worldwide record sales in excess of 100 million, and is one of the best-selling music artists of all time. His influences included James Cleveland, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, The Supremes, The Four Tops, and Marvin Gaye.Benny Goodman
Benjamin David Goodman (May 30, 1909 – June 13, 1986) was an American jazz clarinetist and bandleader known as the "King of Swing".In the mid-1930s, Goodman led one of the most popular musical groups in the United States. His concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City on January 16, 1938 is described by critic Bruce Eder as "the single most important jazz or popular music concert in history: jazz's 'coming out' party to the world of 'respectable' music."Goodman's bands started the careers of many jazz musicians. During an era of racial segregation, he led one of the first integrated jazz groups. He performed nearly to the end of his life while exploring an interest in classical music.Big band
A big band is a type of musical ensemble that usually consists of ten or more musicians with four sections: saxophones, trumpets, trombones, and a rhythm section. Big bands originated during the early 1910s and dominated jazz in the early 1940s when swing was most popular. The term "big band" is also used to describe a genre of music. One problem with this usage is that it overlooks the variety of music played by these bands.
Big bands started as accompaniment for dancing. In contrast with the emphasis on improvisation, big bands relied on written compositions and arrangements. They gave a greater role to bandleaders, arrangers, and sections of instruments rather than soloists.Cab Calloway
Cabell Calloway III (December 25, 1907 – November 18, 1994) was an American jazz singer, dancer, and bandleader. He was strongly associated with the Cotton Club in Harlem, New York City, where he was a regular performer.
Calloway was a master of energetic scat singing and led one of the United States' most popular big bands from the start of the 1930s to the late 1940s. Calloway's band featured performers including trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Adolphus "Doc" Cheatham, saxophonists Ben Webster and Leon "Chu" Berry, New Orleans guitarist Danny Barker, and bassist Milt Hinton. Calloway continued to perform until his death in 1994 at the age of 86.Chicago Symphony Orchestra
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) was founded by Theodore Thomas in 1891. The ensemble makes its home at Orchestra Hall in Chicago and plays a summer season at the Ravinia Festival. The music director is Riccardo Muti, who began his tenure in 2010. The CSO is one of five American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five".Conducting
Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance, such as an orchestral or choral concert. It has been defined as "the art of directing the simultaneous performance of several players or singers by the use of gesture." The primary duties of the conductor are to interpret the score in a way which reflects the specific indications in that score, set the tempo, ensure correct entries by ensemble members, and "shape" the phrasing where appropriate. Conductors communicate with their musicians primarily through hand gestures, usually with the aid of a baton, and may use other gestures or signals such as eye contact. A conductor usually supplements their direction with verbal instructions to their musicians in rehearsal.The conductor typically stands on a raised podium with a large music stand for the full score, which contains the musical notation for all the instruments or voices. Since the mid-19th century, most conductors have not played an instrument when conducting, although in earlier periods of classical music history, leading an ensemble while playing an instrument was common. In Baroque music from the 1600s to the 1750s, the group would typically be led by the harpsichordist or first violinist (see concertmaster), an approach that in modern times has been revived by several music directors for music from this period. Conducting while playing a piano or synthesizer may also be done with musical theatre pit orchestras. Communication is typically non-verbal during a performance (this is strictly the case in art music, but in jazz big bands or large pop ensembles, there may be occasional spoken instructions, such as a "count in"). However, in rehearsals, frequent interruptions allow the conductor to give verbal directions as to how the music should be played or sung.
Conductors act as guides to the orchestras or choirs they conduct. They choose the works to be performed and study their scores, to which they may make certain adjustments (such as in tempo, articulation, phrasing, repetitions of sections), work out their interpretation, and relay their vision to the performers. They may also attend to organizational matters, such as scheduling rehearsals, planning a concert season, hearing auditions and selecting members, and promoting their ensemble in the media. Orchestras, choirs, concert bands and other sizable musical ensembles such as big bands are usually led by conductors.Duke Ellington
Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974) was an American composer, pianist, and leader of a jazz orchestra, which he led from 1923 until his death over a career spanning more than fifty years.Born in Washington, D.C., Ellington was based in New York City from the mid-1920s onward and gained a national profile through his orchestra's appearances at the Cotton Club in Harlem. In the 1930s, his orchestra toured in Europe. Although widely considered to have been a pivotal figure in the history of jazz, Ellington embraced the phrase "beyond category" as a liberating principle and referred to his music as part of the more general category of American Music rather than to a musical genre such as jazz.Some of the jazz musicians who were members of Ellington's orchestra, such as saxophonist Johnny Hodges, are considered to be among the best players in the idiom. Ellington melded them into the best-known orchestral unit in the history of jazz. Some members stayed with the orchestra for several decades. A master at writing miniatures for the three-minute 78 rpm recording format, Ellington wrote more than one thousand compositions; his extensive body of work is the largest recorded personal jazz legacy, with many of his pieces having become standards. Ellington also recorded songs written by his bandsmen, for example Juan Tizol's "Caravan", and "Perdido", which brought a Spanish tinge to big band jazz. In the early 1940s, Ellington began a nearly thirty-year collaboration with composer-arranger-pianist Billy Strayhorn, whom he called his writing and arranging companion. With Strayhorn, he composed many extended compositions, or suites, as well as additional short pieces. Following an appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival, in July 1956, Ellington and his orchestra enjoyed a major revival and embarked on world tours. Ellington recorded for most American record companies of his era, performed in several films, scored several, and composed a handful of stage musicals.
Ellington was noted for his inventive use of the orchestra, or big band, and for his eloquence and charisma. His reputation continued to rise after he died, and he was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize Special Award for music in 1999.Electric Light Orchestra
The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) are an English rock band formed in Birmingham in 1970, by songwriters/multi-instrumentalists Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood with drummer Bev Bevan. Their music is characterised by a fusion of Beatlesque pop, classical arrangements, and futuristic iconography. After Wood's departure in 1972, Lynne became the band's leader, arranging and producing every album while writing virtually all of their original material. For their initial tenure, Lynne, Bevan and keyboardist Richard Tandy were the group's only consistent members.
ELO was formed out of Lynne's and Wood's desire to create modern rock and pop songs with classical overtones. It derived as an offshoot of Wood's previous band, The Move, of which Lynne and Bevan were also members. During the 1970s and 1980s, ELO released a string of top 10 albums and singles, including two LPs that reached the top of British charts: the disco-inspired Discovery (1979) and the science-fiction-themed concept album Time (1981). In 1986, Lynne lost interest in the band and ceased its operation. Bevan responded by forming his own band, ELO Part II, which later became the Orchestra. With the exception of a short-lived reunion in 2000–01, ELO remained largely inactive until the 2010s. In 2014, Lynne re-formed the band again with Tandy as Jeff Lynne's ELO, where he resumed concert touring and new recordings under the moniker.
During ELO's original 14-year period of active recording and touring, they sold over 50 million records worldwide, collecting 19 CRIA, 21 RIAA, and 38 BPI awards. For a period in the mid 1970s, the band saw more success in the United States, where they were billed as "the English guys with the big fiddles". From 1972 to 1986, ELO accumulated twenty Top 20 songs on the UK Singles Chart, and fifteen Top 20 songs on the US Billboard Hot 100. The band also holds the record for having the most Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 hits (20) without a number one single of any band in US chart history. In 2017, the ELO line-up of Wood, Lynne, Bevan, and Tandy were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame..Georg Solti
Sir Georg Solti, (born György Stern; 21 October 1912 – 5 September 1997) was a Hungarian-born orchestral and operatic conductor, best known for his appearances with opera companies in Munich, Frankfurt and London, and as a long-serving music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Born in Budapest, he studied there with Béla Bartók, Leó Weiner and Ernő Dohnányi. In the 1930s, he was a répétiteur at the Hungarian State Opera and worked at the Salzburg Festival for Arturo Toscanini. His career was interrupted by the rise of the Nazis' influence on Hungarian politics, and being of Jewish background he fled the increasingly harsh Hungarian anti-Jewish laws in 1938. After conducting a season of Russian ballet in London at the Royal Opera House he found refuge in Switzerland, where he remained during the Second World War. Prohibited from conducting there, he earned a living as a pianist.
After the war, Solti was appointed musical director of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich in 1946. In 1952 he moved to the Frankfurt Opera, where he remained in charge for nine years. He took West German citizenship in 1953. In 1961 he became musical director of the Covent Garden Opera Company, London. During his ten-year tenure, he introduced changes that raised standards to the highest international levels. Under his musical directorship the status of the company was recognised with the grant of the title "the Royal Opera". He became a British citizen in 1972.
In 1969 Solti became music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a post he held for 22 years. He relinquished the position in 1991 and became the orchestra's music director laureate, a position he held until his death. Solti for the first time took the orchestra on several tours beyond North America, made multiple recordings, and ensured the CSO's artistic and financial well-being. During his time as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's eighth music director, he also served as music director of the Orchestre de Paris from 1972 until 1975 and principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra from 1979 until 1983.
Known in his early years for the intensity of his music making, Solti was widely considered to have mellowed as a conductor in later years. He recorded many works two or three times at various stages of his career, and was a prolific recording artist, making more than 250 recordings, including 45 complete opera sets. The most famous of his recordings is probably Decca's complete set of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, made between 1958 and 1965 with the Vienna Philharmonic. Solti's Ring has twice been voted the greatest recording ever made, in polls for Gramophone magazine in 1999 and the BBC's Music Magazine in 2012. Solti was repeatedly honoured by the recording industry with awards throughout his career, including a record 31 Grammy Awards as a recording artist. In addition, Solti and producer John Culshaw received the first NARAS Trustees' Award in 1967 for their "efforts, ingenuity, and artistic contributions" in connection with the first complete recording of Wagner's Ring. Solti also received the Academy's 1995 Lifetime Achievement Award.Glockenspiel
A glockenspiel (German pronunciation: [ˈɡlɔkənˌʃpiːl] or [ˈɡlɔkŋ̍ˌʃpiːl], Glocken: bells and Spiel: set) is a percussion instrument composed of a set of tuned keys arranged in the fashion of the keyboard of a piano. In this way, it is similar to the xylophone; however, the xylophone's bars are made of wood, while the glockenspiel's are metal plates or tubes, thus making it a metallophone. The glockenspiel, moreover, is usually smaller and higher in pitch.In German, a carillon is also called a Glockenspiel, while in French, the glockenspiel is often called a carillon. In music scores the glockenspiel is sometimes designated by the Italian term campanelli.Jeff Goldblum
Jeffrey Lynn Goldblum (; born October 22, 1952) is an American actor and musician. He has starred in some of the highest-grossing films of his era, Jurassic Park (1993) and Independence Day (1996), as well as their respective sequels, The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018), and Independence Day: Resurgence (2016).
Goldblum starred in films including Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), The Big Chill (1983), and Into the Night (1985) before coming to the attention of wider audiences in David Cronenberg's The Fly (1986) which earned him a Saturn Award for Best Actor.
His other films include The Tall Guy (1989), Deep Cover (1992), Powder (1995), The Prince of Egypt (1998), Cats & Dogs (2001), Igby Goes Down (2002), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), Adam Resurrected (2008), Le Week-End (2013), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), and Thor: Ragnarok (2017). He also starred in several TV series including the eighth and ninth seasons of Law & Order: Criminal Intent as Zack Nichols. For directing the short film Little Surprises, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film.Juilliard School
The Juilliard School (), informally referred to as Juilliard and located in the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City, is a performing arts conservatory established in 1905. The school trains about 850 undergraduate and graduate students in dance, drama, and music. It is widely regarded as one of the world's leading drama, music and dance schools, with some of the most prestigious arts programs. In 2016, QS Quacquarelli Symonds ranked it as the world's best institution for Performing Arts in their inaugural global ranking of the discipline.La Scala
La Scala (UK: , US: , Italian: [la ˈskaːla]; abbreviation in Italian language for the official name Teatro alla Scala [teˈaːtro alla ˈskaːla]) is an opera house in Milan, Italy. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the Nuovo Regio Ducale Teatro alla Scala (New Royal-Ducal Theatre alla Scala). The premiere performance was Antonio Salieri's Europa riconosciuta.
Most of Italy's greatest operatic artists, and many of the finest singers from around the world, have appeared at La Scala. The theatre is regarded as one of the leading opera and ballet theatres in the world and is home to the La Scala Theatre Chorus, La Scala Theatre Ballet and La Scala Theatre Orchestra. The theatre also has an associate school, known as the La Scala Theatre Academy (Italian: Accademia Teatro alla Scala), which offers professional training in music, dance, stage craft and stage management.Leopold Stokowski
Leopold Anthony Stokowski (18 April 1882 – 13 September 1977) was an English conductor of Polish and Irish descent. One of the leading conductors of the early and mid-20th century, he is best known for his long association with the Philadelphia Orchestra and his appearance in the Disney film Fantasia. He was especially noted for his free-hand conducting style that spurned the traditional baton and for obtaining a characteristically sumptuous sound from the orchestras he directed.
Stokowski was music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the NBC Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Symphony Orchestra, the Symphony of the Air and many others. He was also the founder of the All-American Youth Orchestra, the New York City Symphony, the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra and the American Symphony Orchestra.
Stokowski conducted the music for and appeared in several Hollywood films, most notably Disney's Fantasia, and was a lifelong champion of contemporary composers, giving many premieres of new music during his 60-year conducting career. Stokowski, who made his official conducting debut in 1909, appeared in public for the last time in 1975 but continued making recordings until June 1977, a few months before his death at the age of 95.London Symphony Orchestra
The London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), founded in 1904, is the oldest of London's symphony orchestras. It was set up by a group of players who left Henry Wood's Queen's Hall Orchestra because of a new rule requiring players to give the orchestra their exclusive services. The LSO itself later introduced a similar rule for its members. From the outset the LSO was organised on co-operative lines, with all players sharing the profits at the end of each season. This practice continued for the orchestra's first four decades.
The LSO underwent periods of eclipse in the 1930s and 1950s when it was regarded as inferior in quality to new London orchestras, to which it lost players and bookings: the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic in the 1930s and the Philharmonia and Royal Philharmonic after the Second World War. The profit-sharing principle was abandoned in the post-war era as a condition of receiving public subsidy for the first time. In the 1950s the orchestra debated whether to concentrate on film work at the expense of symphony concerts; many senior players left when the majority of players rejected the idea. By the 1960s the LSO had recovered its leading position, which it has retained subsequently. In 1966, to perform alongside it in choral works, the orchestra established the LSO Chorus, originally a mix of professional and amateur singers, later a wholly amateur ensemble.
As a self-governing body, the orchestra selects the conductors with whom it works. At some stages in its history it has dispensed with a principal conductor and worked only with guests. Among conductors with whom it is most associated are, in its early days, Hans Richter, Sir Edward Elgar, and Sir Thomas Beecham, and in more recent decades Pierre Monteux, André Previn, Claudio Abbado, Sir Colin Davis, and Valery Gergiev.
Since 1982 the LSO has been based in the Barbican Centre in the City of London. Among its programmes there have been large-scale festivals celebrating composers as diverse as Berlioz, Mahler and Bernstein. The LSO claims to be the world's most recorded orchestra; it has made gramophone recordings since 1912 and has played on more than 200 soundtrack recordings for the cinema, of which the best known include the Star Wars series.Musical composition
Musical composition, or simply composition, can refer to an original piece or work of music , either vocal or instrumental, the structure of a musical piece, or to the process of creating or writing a new piece of music. People who create new compositions are called composers. Composers of primarily songs are usually called songwriters; with songs, the person who writes lyrics for a song is the lyricist. In many cultures, including Western classical music, the act of composing typically includes the creation of music notation, such as a sheet music "score," which is then performed by the composer or by other instrumental musicians or singers. In popular music and traditional music, songwriting may involve the creation of a basic outline of the song, called the lead sheet, which sets out the melody, lyrics and chord progression. In classical music, orchestration (choosing the instruments of a large music ensemble such as an orchestra which will play the different parts of music, such as the melody, accompaniment, countermelody, bassline and so on) is typically done by the composer, but in musical theatre and in pop music, songwriters may hire an arranger to do the orchestration. In some cases, a pop or traditional songwriter may not use written notation at all, and instead compose the song in their mind and then play, sing and/or record it from memory. In jazz and popular music, notable sound recordings by influential performers are given the weight that written or printed scores play in classical music.
Although a musical composition often uses musical notation and has a single author, this is not always the case. A work of music can have multiple composers, which often occurs in popular music when all of the members of a band collaborates to write a song, or in musical theatre, when one person writes the melodies, a second person writes the lyrics, and a third person orchestrates the songs. A piece of music can also be composed with words, images, or, since the 20th century, with computer programs that explain or notate how the singer or musician should create musical sounds. Examples range from 20th century avant-garde music that uses graphic notation, to text compositions such as Karlheinz Stockhausen's Aus den sieben Tagen, to computer programs that select sounds for musical pieces. Music that makes heavy use of randomness and chance is called aleatoric music, and is associated with contemporary composers active in the 20th century, such as John Cage, Morton Feldman, and Witold Lutosławski. A more commonly known example of chance-based music is the sound of wind chimes jingling in a breeze. The study of composition has traditionally been dominated by examination of methods and practice of Western classical music, but the definition of composition is broad enough to include the creation of popular music and traditional music songs and instrumental pieces, and to include spontaneously improvised works like those of free jazz performers and African percussionists such as Ewe drummers.
Although in the 2000s, composition is considered to consist of the manipulation of each aspect of music (harmony, melody, form, rhythm, and timbre), according to Jean-Benjamin de Laborde (1780, 2:12):
Composition consists in two things only. The first is the ordering and disposing of several sounds...in such a manner that their succession pleases the ear. This is what the Ancients called melody. The second is the rendering audible of two or more simultaneous sounds in such a manner that their combination is pleasant. This is what we call harmony, and it alone merits the name of composition.New York Philharmonic
The New York Philharmonic, officially the Philharmonic-Symphony Society of New York, Inc., globally known as New York Philharmonic Orchestra (NYPO) or New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra, is a symphony orchestra based in New York City. It is one of the leading American orchestras popularly referred to as the "Big Five". The Philharmonic's home is David Geffen Hall, located in New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.Founded in 1842, the orchestra is one of the oldest musical institutions in the United States and the oldest of the "Big Five" orchestras. Its record-setting 14,000th concert was given in December 2004.Opera
Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" (the literal translation of "opera") is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.
Opera is a key part of the Western classical music tradition. Originally understood as an entirely sung piece, in contrast to a play with songs, opera has come to include numerous genres, including some that include spoken dialogue such as musical theater, Singspiel and Opéra comique. In traditional number opera, singers employ two styles of singing: recitative, a speech-inflected style and self-contained arias. The 19th century saw the rise of the continuous music drama.
Opera originated in Italy at the end of the 16th century (with Jacopo Peri's mostly lost Dafne, produced in Florence in 1598) and soon spread through the rest of Europe: Heinrich Schütz in Germany, Jean-Baptiste Lully in France, and Henry Purcell in England all helped to establish their national traditions in the 17th century. In the 18th century, Italian opera continued to dominate most of Europe (except France), attracting foreign composers such as George Frideric Handel. Opera seria was the most prestigious form of Italian opera, until Christoph Willibald Gluck reacted against its artificiality with his "reform" operas in the 1760s. The most renowned figure of late 18th-century opera is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who began with opera seria but is most famous for his Italian comic operas, especially The Marriage of Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro), Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte, as well as Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio), and The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte), landmarks in the German tradition.
The first third of the 19th century saw the high point of the bel canto style, with Gioachino Rossini, Gaetano Donizetti and Vincenzo Bellini all creating works that are still performed. It also saw the advent of Grand Opera typified by the works of Auber and Meyerbeer. The mid-to-late 19th century was a golden age of opera, led and dominated by Giuseppe Verdi in Italy and Richard Wagner in Germany. The popularity of opera continued through the verismo era in Italy and contemporary French opera through to Giacomo Puccini and Richard Strauss in the early 20th century. During the 19th century, parallel operatic traditions emerged in central and eastern Europe, particularly in Russia and Bohemia. The 20th century saw many experiments with modern styles, such as atonality and serialism (Arnold Schoenberg and Alban Berg), Neoclassicism (Igor Stravinsky), and Minimalism (Philip Glass and John Adams). With the rise of recording technology, singers such as Enrico Caruso and Maria Callas became known to much wider audiences that went beyond the circle of opera fans. Since the invention of radio and television, operas were also performed on (and written for) these mediums. Beginning in 2006, a number of major opera houses began to present live high-definition video transmissions of their performances in cinemas all over the world. Since 2009, complete performances can be downloaded and are live streamed.