"Seating plan of the orchestra" from The Orchestral Instruments and What They Do: A Primer for Concert-Goers by Daniel Gregory Mason (1909).
Orchestral Music: A Handbook, by David Daniels, 4th ed. (Scarecrow Press, 2005).
Orchestral Music: A Handbook is an essential reference for the orchestral conductor, musical director, classical music soloist as well as the devotee of the symphonic repertoire. David Daniels, musical director of Warren Symphony in Warren, Michigan, has compiled this work through four editions over a span of nearly forty years.
The fourth edition of Orchestral Music combines Daniel's earlier work with the database of the Orchestral Library Information Service. It details the orchestral repertoire by composer, then alphabetically by work. The duration and instrumentation of each composition is listed along with publishers who have either sold or rented parts for each composition.
Orchestral Music also provides appendices that will prove beneficial to anyone called upon to organize the programming for a symphonic concert or season. The first appendix lists works for orchestra that utilize a chorus, whether a mixed, double, female, male or children's chorus. Appendix B enumerates works for vocal soloist or narrator and orchestra. Appendix C does likewise for instrumental soloists and the concerto repertoire.
Further appendices list the symphonic repertoire by instrumentation and duration. Orchestral Music provides suggestions for works written for youth concerts. There are also suggestions of "composer groups for thematic programming"-- groupings of composers by nationality. Finally there is an index by work title as well as information for contacting publishers.
Other resources for exploring the symphonic repertoire include:
Orchestral Music In Print, edited by Margaret K. Farish. (Musicdata, 1979) - although very dated, this reference work is even more extensive in scope, particularly for twentieth century compositions.
American Orchestral Music: A Performance Catalog, by Richard Koshgarian. (Scarecrow Press, 1992). - this reference provides most of the kinds of information provided in Orchestral Music. Although narrower in focus, it is much more thorough and even includes unpublished works.
ASCAP Symphonic Catalog, 1977, 3d ed. (Bowker, 1977), BMI Symphonic Catalogue, Rev. ed. (Broadcast Music, 1971) and BMI Symphonic Catalogue. Supplement. (Broadcast Music, 1978) - these reference catalogs detail the repertoire of symphonic works, both published and unpublished, by the composers represented by these performing rights organizations.
The Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music in the Free Library of Philadelphia: A Cumulative Catalog, 1929-1977. (G. K. Hall, 1979). - in addition to detailing a substantial part of the orchestral repertoire, the Free Library of Philadelphia also provides orchestral parts for loan.
San Francisco Bay Area orchestras should not overlook the collection of orchestral parts available for loan from the San Francisco Public Library.