Difference Between Symphony and Orchestra

Symphony vs Orchestra

Symphony and orchestra are words that confuse many if they are not into music. Orchestra is a group or ensemble of performers that play various musical instruments together. Symphony is a term that is usually used as symphony orchestra that confuses those who have been to a simple orchestra that does not play symphonies. Despite a lot of similarities, there are differences between a symphony and orchestra that will be talked about in this article.


Orchestra is a term that is used for a group composed of musicians that plays various musical instruments and musical compositions to entertain the audiences. Not all groups of musicians can be labeled as orchestra as there are certain requirements to be called an orchestra. There must be different sections such as percussion, string, brass, and woodwinds to be called an orchestra. There has to be a conductor during a performance. The word originates from old Greek times when dancers and singers performed in an area especially made for them to perform in front of audiences. Orchestra is always positioned in such a manner so as to allow the audience to see them easily. Small orchestra having less than 50 musicians is called a chamber orchestra while an orchestra that has around 100 musicians is called a full orchestra. It is these full orchestras that are sometimes referred to as symphony orchestras.


Symphony is a word that is used both as a noun for a musical group performing musical compositions as well as for compositions that are performed by these musicians. Great musicians of the past such as Mozart and Haydn created many symphonies in their lives that are as popular today as they were during the 19th century. While Haydn is a doyen of London symphonies, Mozart is remembered for his Paris symphonies. Beethoven is the last member of this trinity that has become immortal in the world of symphonies. Nowadays, however, symphony is a word that is reserved, not for musical compositions, but for the ensemble that consists of musicians playing all sorts of musical instruments in front of the audience.

What is the difference between Symphony and Orchestra?

• Symphony is a type of orchestra.

• Orchestra refers to a group of musicians that consists of different sections.

• The various sections of an orchestra are woodwind, percussion, string, and brass.

• Symphony is a word that is also used for musical compositions of great musicians of the past such as Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven etc.

• Symphony orchestra is the word that is commonly used for symphony these days.