Book review: 'The birth of the orchestra: history of an institution, 1650–1815' by John Spitzer and Neal Zaslaw

Lawson, C. (2005) Book review: 'The birth of the orchestra: history of an institution, 1650–1815' by John Spitzer and Neal Zaslaw. Music & Letters, 86 (4). pp. 629-633. ISSN 0027-4224 (print) 1477-4631 (online)

Abstract

The role of the orchestra within an ever-changing social and political environment has recently attracted a great deal of attention, as its ability to adapt to twenty-first century culture remains constantly under the spotlight. Many of the issues surrounding the orchestra and its musicians past, present, and future have recently surfaced in such books as The Orchestra: Origins and Transformations, edited by Joan Peyser (New York, 1986); Christopher Small’s Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening (London and Hanover, NH, 1989); The Cambridge Companion to the Orchestra, edited by Colin Lawson (Cambridge, 2003); and Stephen Cottrell’s Professional Music-Making in London: Ethnography and Experience (Aldershot, 2004). With their new book, John Spitzer and Neal Zaslaw have made a distinctive, scholarly, and stimulating contribution to the debate.

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