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Difference between Philharmonic and Symphony(ic)

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by deanobg, Mar 8, 2001.

  1. Hi all

    Working off the 'there's no such thing as a dumb question' theory - I was wondering what the difference is between a Philharmonic Orchestra and a Symphony Orchestra?


  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well, going on the London Orchestras with names like this - absolutely nothing! That is from the point of view of a member of the audience - I've never been a member of an orchestra.
  3. Cheers Bruce

    I was discussing this with a friend of mine the other night who is more knowledgeable than me about classical music and he didn't know either.

    Guess it's like bass guitar and toy bass - both one and the same eh?

  4. dhosek


    May 25, 2000
    Los Angeles, CA
    From www.m-w.com

    Main Entry: phil·har·mon·ic
    Pronunciation: "fi-l&r-'mä-nik, -(")lär-; "fil-(")här-
    Function: noun
    Etymology: French philharmonique, literally, loving harmony, from Italian filarmonico, from fil- phil- + armonia harmony, from Latin harmonia
    Date: 1843

    So the answer is they're the same thing.

    I do tend to associate philharmonics with a 19th century romantic repertoire, but that may just be me.

  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well there is the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia amongst others and their seems to be no pattern to their repertoire - although Romantic symphonies are always popular.
  6. They are the same thing.

    Sometimes one just has more of a 'ring' than the other.

    I play in the Hamilton Philharmonic - which, to me, sounds better than if it were the Hamilton Symphony.

    The other thing to consider is that sometimes in big cities, sometimes there's more than one big orchestra, so if one name is taken, they might use the other. London is a great example of this - the Symphony and the Philharmonic are both great orchestras, but they both can't have the same name.

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