There is hardly one of Wagner's orchestral innovations which is not inseparably connected with his adaptation of music to the re q uirements of drama; and modern conductors, in treating Wagner's orchestration, as the normal standard by which all previous and contemporary music must be judged, are doing their best to found a tradition which in another fifty years will be exploded as thoroughly as the tradition of symphonic additional accompaniments is now exploded in the performances of Bach and Handel.
It engages the ear more exclusively, and therefore it needs an accuracy and an elaboration of paraphernalia quite irrelevant to symphonic art.
A crowd of instruments that seemed at first to overwhelm it in sympathetic comments is perfectly dramatic and appropriate on the symphonic scale.
To write an account of symphonic instrumentation in any detail would be like attempting a history of emotional expression; and all that we can do here is to point out that the problem which was, so to speak, shelved by the polyphonic device of the continuo, was for a long time solved only by methods which, in any hands but those of the greatest masters, were very inartistic conventions.
The enormous dramatic development in the symphonic music of Beethoven made the problem of the Mass with orchestral accompaniment almost insoluble.
This brings us to the latest radical change effected in instrumentation, the change from symphonic to dramatic principles.
At present we can only be certain that the criterion according to which Brahms, being a symphonic writer, has no mastery of orchestration whatever, is not a criterion compatible with any sense of symphonic style.
This passage shows that if Beethoven had had the modern trumpet at his disposal, while he would no doubt freely have used its resources, he would nevertheless have maintained its character as an instrument founded on the natural scale, and would have agreed with Brahms that the nobility and purity of its tone depends upon its faithful adherence, at least within symphonic limits, to types of melody suggestive of that scale.