What is the history of classical music?

The history of symphonic music is really just the same as the history of music.  From individuals singing and banging percussion instruments, to assemblages of singers and percussionist, to early wind and string instruments, to small, then large groups of strings and winds—music began as a way to express the inexpressible.  Our particular thread of music in the classical world began at the confluence of two functions of music: sacred and secular.  There was music to worship by, and music to play by.  Everything we play can, in some sense, be traced back to either, or both, of those threads.  Whether a minuet in a symphony, or a funeral march, symphonic music’s roots go back to rowdy dance halls, and hallowed spaces of worship.

Although the Greeks are thought to have been the first civilization to combine music and drama, the modern orchestra began to emerge in Europe in the early 17th century.  Today, a typical orchestra includes different kinds of instruments, from the string, woodwind, brass, and percussion instrument families.  The symphony orchestra is able to not only perform classical music, including ballet and opera works, but also Broadway show music and scores for movies, television, and radio, along with arrangements of popular, folk, rock and roll, and other genres.  The Delaware Symphony Orchestra (DSO) is a symphony orchestra, the only fully-professional one in the State of Delaware.