The Ensemble intercontemporain is a sort of chamber orchestra that specializes in contemporary classical music. The Ensemble intercontemporain was formed in 1976 by Pierre Boulez. It was conceived as a group of 31 soloists, who could play orchestral literature or literature for any combination of instruments. At first, the idea was for the ensemble to be more flexible than an orchestra, allowing composers to write for a more restricted group of instruments. This model has become quite prevalent in contemporary classical music for a variety of reasons, including the financial difficulties of orchestras in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and the increased responsibility that the smaller ensemble placed upon each player (there is less dead weight in this sort of ensemble).
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