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Clive Brown

In modern orchestras, the principal first violinist, who sits immediately to the left of the conductor as viewed by the audience. As principal first violinist, the leader has significant but varying duties, often including the marking of parts, liaison between orchestra and management and responsibility for sectional rehearsals; but the precedence accorded to the principal first violinist over the principals of other sections is largely a product of the leader's historical role. Until the early 19th century instrumental music, regardless of the size of the ensemble, was usually directed by one (or more) of the performers. Some degree of direction from the keyboard was common during the 18th century, but there are many references to violin direction (including C.P.E. Bach's account of his father's preference for that method), and it became more pervasive with the gradual abandonment of the keyboard continuo during the later 18th century. Reichardt in ...