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Originally written for The Smith Center Blog, 2015

Today, the terms symphony, orchestra, and philharmonic are interchangeable and synonymous with one another. However, their original meanings are quite different and distinct from one another.

Symphony and orchestra are Greek in origin. Symphony comes from the word symphonia, which means an agreement of sound. Orchestra originally meant the actual location where the chorus was located in front of the stage for Greek tragedies. Philharmonic is Latin in origin and is translated as, a lover of harmony.

Like the National Basketball Association and the National Football League, there is no difference between musical institutions that have chosen to use, symphony, orchestra, or, philharmonic in their title.