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Civilopedia Entry Edit
Although the first symphonies – instrumental works in three or four movements scored for large orchestras – appeared in the early 1600s, it was during the 18th Century that they took on the form known today. The aristocracy, followed by the rising affluent middle-class, became fans of these extended pieces of music in cultural centers such as Vienna, Milan, and Paris, performed in 100-piece ensembles of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. Sponsors devoted fortunes to helping aspiring composers, and symphonies came to play a highly visible role in public life in Europe. In the early 19th Century, Beethoven – among others – elevated the symphony even more, from a popular but common genre to supreme musical artwork. It remains so to this day.