Thanks to MIDI, many of us who had always aspired to be composers now can be composers. But how did Beethoven, Mozart, Wagner, Mahler, Tchaikovsky and all the other tunesmiths of old manage without it? My theory is that there were orchestras for hire that would play through their stuff and if it made 'em cringe, they'd take it home and work on it some more. Or perhaps they used a real professional orchestra and kept revising and revising until it either sounded decent enough to start printing up programs and concert tickets or the orchestra stood up in unison and shouted "IT'S GOOD ENOUGH, LUDWIG, WE'LL PLAY IT!!!"
I can't imagine what it was like to not know how my symphony was gonna sound before opening night. Any historians out there who can shed some light on this mystery?