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American Orchestras in the Nineteenth Century$
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John Spitzer

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780226769769

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226769776.001.0001

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Invisible Instruments

Invisible Instruments

Theater Orchestras in New York, 1850–1900

(p.109) [II.1] Invisible Instruments
American Orchestras in the Nineteenth Century

John Graziano

University of Chicago Press

New York featured no fewer than seven theaters in which dramas and comedies were conducted, and almost all of them employed an orchestra. Orchestra leaders normally contracted to stay at one theater for a season, or for multiple seasons, although frequently moved to a different house at the end of a season. It is observed that when a better-paying job was offered, players were allowed to opt out of their contracted performances in the theaters. Theater orchestras, a significant component in the production of plays, held together scene changes and ends of acts, and underscored dialogue as needed. Until 1890s, pit musicians were still underpaid. Theater musicians were looked on with disdain by many in the entertainment profession.

Keywords:   theater orchestras, New York, plays, pit musicians, theater musicians

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