The use of percussion in five Strauss tone poems, with introductory remarks concerning the first orchestral use of percussion



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Although percussion instruments are considered among the oldest musical instruments known to man, the acceptance of percussion into the orchestra has been rather slow. The reluctancy to accept percussion instruments as part of a sophisticated ensemble was due in part to a lack of imagination, but was also due to traditions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. There were however, some composers who saw musical possibilities in the unique percussive timbres. It is these composers and their first use of orchestral percussion that sparked the imagination of later composers. Richard Strauss may be cited as a great composer of imagination and skill in his use of percussion. This paper deals with the gradual acceptance of percussion as an integral part of the orchestral ensemble, and deals primarily with its masterful use by Richard Strauss.