MAINLY OF SUITES
I HAVE ANALYSED the symphony at some length, for it is by far the most important branch of orchestral music, a subject not to be dismissed in a few generalizations. By comparison with it the many other forms, though of immense interest in themselves, are less significant. Since the days of the "Sinfonia avanti l'opera," suites, overtures, rhapsodies, variations, divertimentos, serenades, tone-poems, symphonic poems, dances, impressions, ballets, preludes, fantasias, capriccios, marches, scherzos, idylls, scenes, romances, music for string and wind combinations, and many other examples of orchestral art have multiplied to a bewildering extent. To classify them all here would give my narrative the appearance of a telephone directory--which would be fair neither to the reader nor to myself.
In pre-symphonic days the orchestral repertoire was very limited indeed. There were a few suites, overtures, fantasias, ballets, concertos for strings, by Purcell, Lulli, Corelli, Bach, Handel, and others, and little else. Music for strings largely occupied the attention of these composers, and much of what was written still graces the programs of the twentieth century. The Concerti Grossi by Handel and Corelli are masterpieces of classical design and beauty; their frequent performance testifies to their worth. Nor must we forget those many beautiful string pieces by Purcell. Of Bach's Brandenburg concertos and of Handel "Water Music" mention has already been made.
Bach, in company with Corelli, Handel, and others of his time, may be said to have perfected the older suite form. But, if we except those by Bach, the true orchestral suite as we now know it was the product of a later age. There was, too, an intermediate post-symphonic stage of the suite when Mozart wrote many under the titles of Divertimento