THE CLASSICAL ORCHESTRA
A new orchestra evolved during the classical period. During the Classical period, it was a standard group of four sections: strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. In the late instrumental works of Mozart and Haydn, an orchestra might consist of:
Strings: !st violins, 2nd violins, violas, cellos, double basses
Woodwinds: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons
Brass: 2 french horns, 2 trumpets
Percussion: 2 timpani
Notice that the woodwinds and brass instruments are paired, a term known as double woodwinds and double brass respectively. Clarinets have also been added.
Classical composers exploited the individual tone colours of instruments and they do not treat instruments interchangeably. A classical piece has greater variety and more rapid changes of tone colour.
Each section of the classical orchestra had a special role. The strings were the most important section, with the first violins taking the melody most of the time and the lower strings providing an accompaniment. The woodwinds added contrasting tone colours and were often given melodic solos. Horns and trumpets brought power to loud passages and filled out the harmony, tough they do not usually play the main melody. Timpani were used for rhythmic bite and emphasis. As a whole, the classical orchestra had developed into a flexible and colourful instrument to which composers could entrust their most powerful and dramatic musical conceptions.