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Differences between Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonic Orchestra

For many, it is known that an orchestra is a group of instrumentalists who perform musical works, following the instructions of a director. The orchestras are composed of instruments of various types and classes that vary in terms of the type of music they perform, the type of instruments, the number of instruments that participate, among others.

In this sense, an orchestra can be symphonic, philharmonic, typical, popular, chamber, band or jazz. However, in this article, we are going to point out the differences between a symphony orchestra and a philharmonic orchestra, beginning by explaining the definition and characteristics of each one.

symphonic Orchestra

The symphony orchestra is one that harmonically combines all instruments, whether percussion, string or wind, both wood and metal. Previously they were dedicated to interpreting symphonies (a type of musical works) but currently they are dedicated to the interpretation of all kinds of musical works.

The symphony orchestra is made up of a total of approximately 100 instrumentalists, about 66 strings, 15 woodwinds, 12 brass and 10 percussion, and on some occasions the piano and organ are also integrated. In theaters, the symphony orchestra is usually placed in a pit (front and lower part of the stage) so that the work can be seen more clearly.

Additionally, a symphony orchestra is made up of a group of professional musicians who have received recognized academic training in music and for which they receive a salary or wages. One of the main characteristics of the symphony orchestra is that it has an orchestra conductor, who is the person in charge of directing it, signaling the time of the piece and the inputs of the instruments, in order to maintain musical harmony.

Philharmonic Orchestra

The philharmonic orchestra is one that combines an approximate number of between 95 and 106 musical instruments of various types (percussion, string, wind, wood and metal). In its historical origin, a philharmonic orchestra was a musical association that was made up of music fans and they did not have to be professional musicians.

Similar to the symphony orchestra, a philharmonic orchestra is made up of a set of instruments (approximately 66 strings, 15 woodwinds, 12 brass, and 10 percussion) that take part in the work under the guidance of a conductor who With his execution techniques, he directs the entrances of the various instruments and maintains the quadrature (musical time) of the work to be interpreted.

The philharmonic orchestra usually accompanies lyrical plays, opera or ballet performances, although it also performs independent performances of this type of work.

As has been seen, both the symphony orchestra and the philharmonic orchestra have the same structural characteristics, both have the same number and type of instruments guided by a musical director. That is why, for many experts, there is no difference between the two, however, the following can be pointed out as a fundamental difference:

  • In its origins, the symphony orchestra was made up of professional musicians with recognized academic musical training and who received a salary for their performance, while the philharmonic orchestra was made up of amateur musicians, without recognized academic musical training, however, today this condition is no longer does not prevail.

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