The Symphony in Cultural Thought and Practice
First-Year Seminar Program 148
The era between 1780 and 1914 was the golden age of the symphony, creating the core repertoire of today’s modern orchestra. In instrumental concerts today, symphonies hold pride of place: they usually occur by themselves during the second half, while other works are often relegated to the first half of the concert, serving as a warm-up. This was not always the case, and this seminar seeks to investigate how the symphony went from a ‘curtain raiser’ genre, less important than concertos and vocal selections, to the center of the European and North American musical canon.