The History, Development, and Evolution of the Orchestra - Spring 2020 - Dr. Al Blatter
(History, Development, & Evolution of Orchestra SP20)

The course will examine the precursors to – and the earliest ensembles that can be identified as – orchestras. It will examine the instruments that were available – both those specifically called for and those (usually) excluded from these ensembles. From these starting points we will trace the growth, expansion, definition and evolution of this iconic musical unit. As orchestral history is studied, we will also note the impact of the social, intellectual, philosophical, political and economic influences that shaped the trajectory of this institution’s development. Special attention will be paid to the conventions that grew from the events that shaped what we currently think of as the modern orchestra.

Attention will also be paid to the symbiotic relationships between the advancement of the musical capabilities of the instruments, the development of virtuosic performance skills and the varieties and complexities of the orchestra’s literature. Evolving expectations and social positions of the orchestral musicians, conductors, composers and audiences will also be examined.

The course will involve score study and analysis as well one or two research projects based upon topics drawn from and/or related the course content.