Today's orchestra has developed in a relatively short time, from small ensebles of strings with a pair of woodwinds or brass instruments from the baroque period (late 17th to mid-18th Centuries), into a huge band of instruments of all varieties.
Although the string instruments resemble those of the earliest orchestras, they have been adapted and strengthened as the power and numbers of the wind and brass sections grew. Handel, writing in the early 18th Centuary, might have one horn, whereas Mahler at the begining of the 20th Centuary would demand eight.
In recent years, the music played by full symphony orchestras ranges from the great classical masterpieces of Mozart and Haydn to the modern classics of Bartock, Britten and Stravinsky.
The main instruments of the orchestra belong to four main categories: