- Howard Shanet
- and John Spitzer
As used here an instrumental ensemble containing bowed strings with more than one player to a part, combined with wind, brass, and percussion instruments in varying proportions. The discussion focuses on orchestras in the United States and is arranged chronologically.
Orchestras began to appear in England’s North American colonies in the first half of the 18th century, some 70 or 80 years after the earliest European orchestras. The development of orchestras was slower in the new world due to sparse population, harsh material conditions, and the absence of aristocratic, court culture. Additionally there were religious restrictions on public theaters in many of the colonies and on instrumental music in church. In the 1730s newspapers in Boston, New York, and Charleston began to announce public performances by singers and “consorts” of instruments. The size of these ensembles cannot be ascertained, nor what instruments they comprised or what repertory they played. Many of them included amateur as well as professional musicians....