Futility Closet shares a humorous report an “organization and methods engineer” wrote about a concert at Royal Festival Hall:
For considerable periods the four oboe players had nothing to do. Their numbers should be reduced, and the work spread more evenly over the whole of the concert, thus eliminating peaks of activity.
All the twelve violins were playing identical notes. This seems unnecessary multiplication. The staff of this section should be drastically cut; if a large volume of sound is required, it could be obtained by means of electronic amplifiers.
(The full report, only a few paragraphs long, is worth a look.)
While the piece is obviously intended for humor, what’s most striking to me is the realization that at some point in the evolution of music someone must actually have said, “I know what would make this better: two instruments playing the same notes simultaneously!” And that crazy idea turns out to be entirely valid.