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Orchestral Manoeuvres

As the BBC Proms begin, Tom Service ponders the seemingly never-ending allure of the orchestra for both composers and audiences, and how and why they've changed over the centuries.

As the world's greatest celebration of orchestras and orchestral music that is the BBC Proms gets underway, Tom Service attempts to shed some light on three centuries of orchestral manoeuvres... When did orchestras begin and why? Why do they have standardised sections of strings, woodwind, brass and percussion? Why did they seem to get bigger and bigger as the 19th century turned into the 20th? Why have so many of the great composers spent so much of their time writing for them? Are they still relevant to today's composers and what's their future?

And to find out what it's actually like to play in an orchestra, an individual working together with sometimes 100 others, Tom talks to Beverley Jones, double bassist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

David Papp (producer).

Available now

29 minutes

Music Played

  • Richard Strauss

    Don Juan, Op. 20

    Performer: Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Performer: Fritz Reiner.
    • RCA.
  • Benjamin Britten

    The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, Op. 34

    Performer: London Symphony Orchestra. Performer: Benjamin Britten.
    • Decca.
  • Anon.

    Mater

    Performer: Ensemble Melpomen. Performer: Conrad Steinmann.
    • Harmonia Mundi.
  • Henry Wood

    Fantasia on British Sea Songs         

    Performer: BBC Symphony Orchestra. Performer: Sakari Oramo.
    • BBC Recording.
  • Claudio Monteverdi

    L'Orfeo: Toccata                                                                   

    Performer: Concert d'Astree. Performer: Emmanuelle Haïm.
    • Virgin.
  • Claudio Monteverdi

    L'Orfeo: Act 1: 'Lasciate i monte, lasciate i fonte'                                               

    Performer: Concert d'Astrée. Performer: Emmanuelle Haïm.
    • Virgin.
  • Claudio Monteverdi

    L'Orfeo, Act 3: 'A lei volt'ho il camin per l'aer cieco'

    Performer: Ian Bostridge. Performer: Concert d'Astrée. Performer: Emmanuelle Haïm.
    • Virgin.
  • Claudio Monteverdi

    L'Orfeo, Act 3: Sinfonia                                            

    Performer: Concert d'Astrée. Performer: Emmanuelle Haïm.
    • Virgin.
  • Claudio Monteverdi

    L'Orfeo, Act 5: Moresca                                           

    Performer: Concert d'Astrée,. Performer: Emmanuelle Haïm.
    • Virgin.
  • Joseph Haydn

    Symphony No. 22 in E flat major "Der Philosoph": I. Adagio

    Performer: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Performer: Sir Simon Rattle.
    • Warner Classics.
  • Joseph Haydn

    Symphony No. 51 in B flat major: II. Adagio

    Performer: The English Concert. Performer: Trevor Pinnock.
    • Archiv.
  • Joseph Haydn

    Symphony No. 31 in D major ‘Horn Signal': I. Allegro

    Performer: Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Performer: Robin Ticciati.
    • Linn CKD500                                    .
  • Joseph Haydn

    Symphony No. 6 in D major ‘Le Matin': I. Menuet           

    Performer: The English Concert. Performer: Trevor Pinnock.
    • Archiv.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Piano Concerto No. 5 in D major, K175: I. Allegro

    Performer: Ronald Brautigam. Performer: Die Kölner Akademie. Performer: Michael Alexander Willens.
    • BIS.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Canata Zerreisset, zersprenget, zertrummert die Gruft BWV.205: Opening Chorus

    Performer: The Choir of the Age of Enlightenment. Performer: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Performer: Gustav Leonhardt.
    • Philips.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Cantata Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ BWV.177: Opening Chorus

    Performer: Bach Collegium Japan. Performer: Masaaki Suzuki.
    • BIS.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68 'Pastoral': IV. Allegro

    Performer: Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Performer: Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
    • Teldec.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67: IV. Allegro

    Performer: Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Performer: Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
    • Teldec.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67: III. Allegro

    Performer: Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Performer: Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
    • Teldec.
  • Richard Strauss

    Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40: Des Helden Walstatt

    Performer: Staatskapelle Berlin. Performer: Daniel Barenboim.
    • DG.
  • Gustav Mahler

    Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major: Part II: Alles Vergängliche ist nur ein Gleichnis

    Performer: Schweizer Chamber Choir. Performer: WDR Rundfunkchor Köln. Performer: Tonhalle Orchester Zürich. Performer: David Zinman.
    • RCA.
  • Igor Stravinsky

    The Rite of Spring, Part 1: L'Adoration de la Terre

    Performer: Cleveland Orchestra. Performer: Pierre Boulez.
    • DG.
  • Maurice Ravel

    Boléro

    Performer: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Performer: Pierre Boulez.
    • DG.
  • Alexander Mosolov

    Zavod (Iron Foundry)

    Performer: State Academic Symphony Orchestra of The Russian Federation. Performer: Evgeny Fyodorovich Svetlanov.
    • Melodiya.
  • Jean Sibelius

    Symphony No. 7 in C major,Op.105                                                                                  

    Performer: BBC Symphony Orchestra. Performer: Sakari Oramo.
    • BBC recording.
  • Dmitry Shostakovich

    Symphony No. 11 in G minor, Op. 103 'The year 1905'                                          

    Performer: BBC Symphony Orchestra. Performer: Semyon Bychkov.
    • BBC recording.
  • John Adams

    Harmonielehre

    Performer: The Multi-Story Orchestra. Performer: Christopher Stark.
    • BBC recording.
  • Igor Stravinsky

    Petrushka: Scene 1

    Performer: Cleveland Orchestra. Performer: Pierre Boulez.
    • DG.

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