Historical Oboe

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THE DOUBLE REED 59 Historical Oboes 2: Development of the French Simple System Oboe 1800-1840 By Robert Howe Wilbraham, Massachusetts n the last issue I discussed four nineteenth century oboes: two from Dresden, one from Prague and one from Philadel- phia. This may have given a biased view of the development of oboe key systems, much of which occurred in France. French and German oboes evolved along dif- ferent lines after 1800. Paris in 1800-1840 was the crossroad of European intellectual ferment 1 ; it was also Europe’s busiest center of musical instrument manufacture. Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Prague and Vienna were hubs of wind instrument manufacture in east- ern Europe, but none boasted the number of makers or instruments made as did the French capital. This was due to political factors. France had been a single large nation under a king since the 12th century, with Paris as its political and educational capital the entire time. Until the 19th century, how- ever, central and eastern Europe consisted of relatively small nation- states without a common artistic or cultural center. State academies for distin- guished singers and actors were established in Paris by Louis XVI in 1784 and 1786; the National (later Paris) Conservatoire was founded in 1793 2,3 . These national artistic centers were preserved by very different suc- cessive French govern- ments through the tur- moils of the French Revolution, Napoleonic era and Bourbon res- toration 3 . They served to concentrate French musical, dramatic, and balletic resources in Paris; painting and lit- erature inevitably fol- lowed suit. During the Napole- onic wars (1792-1815), much of Europe was subjugated or impoverished. Musi- cal instrument makers came to the relative stability of Paris to learn and practice their trades, profiting from sales to professional musi- cians, students and the French army. Paris thus abounded with woodwind makers; their names fill 8 columns in the standard ref- erence 4 . Many made but one type of instrument, a specializa- tion that was not possible in the more widely dispersed east Euro- pean market 2 . In these years, var- ious improvements in metal and woodworking were applied to wind instruments. The industrial revo- lution provided the technology to produce large numbers of inter- changeable parts, making mass production of woodwinds possible by mid-century. Makers in such villages as LaCouture, Ivry-la-Bat- taile, Chateau-Thierry, Mantes-la- Ville, Garennes and Mirecourt con- tributed parts, signed instruments and unstamped instruments to the enormous number of woodwinds produced in the area of the French capital. Thus, it is no surprise that important advances in woodwind design occurred here. When studying the history of a woodwind instrument it is tempting to count and describe keys, presuming that this is all that we need to know. This presumption is false; the devel- opment of an instrument did not occur in a vacuum, nor consist solely of the addition of keys. To understand the development of a wood- wind instrument one must study key systems, the metal used to make the keys, the method of mounting the keys to the body, manufacturing methods, the wood used for the body, the deco- rative designs placed on the wood, the dimen- sions of the bore, toneholes and vents, the design of the reed, the players’ concept of what the instrument should sound like and how that sound can be achieved, the instrument’s role in the orchestra and its compass or range. Because the oboe’s Parisian development was profoundly influenced by work carried out on other instru- I FIGURE 1. Two key oboe by Geh- ring, Leipzig 1755-1811; 12 key oboe (originally 2-9 keys) by Guil- laume Triébert, Paris, circa 1815; Sellner model oboe by Ludwig & Martinka, Prague, 1857-86. FIGURE 2: Trademark of Gehring oboe.

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    Historical Oboes 2: Development of the French Simple System Oboe 1800-1840

    By Robert HoweWilbraham, Massachusetts

    n the last issue I discussed four nineteenth century oboes: two from Dresden, one from Prague and one from Philadel-phia. This may have given a

    biased view of the development of oboe key systems, much of which occurred in France. French and German oboes evolved along dif-ferent lines after 1800. Paris in 1800-1840 was the crossroad of European intellectual ferment1; it was also Europes busiest center of musical instrument manufacture. Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Prague and Vienna were hubs of wind instrument manufacture in east-ern Europe, but none boasted the number of makers or instruments made as did the French capital. This was due to political factors. France had been a single large nation under a king since the 12th century, with Paris as its political and educational capital the entire time. Until the 19th century, how-ever, central and eastern Europe consisted of relatively small nation-states without a common artistic or cultural center. State academies for distin-guished singers and actors were established in Paris by Louis XVI in 1784 and 1786; the National (later Paris) Conservatoire was founded in 17932,3. These national artistic centers were preserved

    by very different suc-cessive French govern-ments through the tur-moils of the French Revolution, Napoleonic era and Bourbon res-toration3. They served to concentrate French musical, dramatic, and balletic resources in Paris; painting and lit-erature inevitably fol-lowed suit.

    During the Napole-onic wars (1792-1815), much of Europe was

    subjugated or impoverished. Musi-cal instrument makers came to the relative stability of Paris to learn and practice their trades, profiting from sales to professional musi-cians, students and the French army. Paris thus abounded with woodwind makers; their names fill 8 columns in the standard ref-erence4. Many made but one type of instrument, a specializa-tion that was not possible in the more widely dispersed east Euro-pean market2. In these years, var-ious improvements in metal and woodworking were applied to wind instruments. The industrial revo-lution provided the technology to produce large numbers of inter-changeable parts, making mass production of woodwinds possible by mid-century. Makers in such villages as LaCouture, Ivry-la-Bat-taile, Chateau-Thierry, Mantes-la-Ville, Garennes and Mirecourt con-tributed parts, signed instruments and unstamped instruments to the enormous number of woodwinds produced in the area of the French

    capital. Thus, it is no surprise that important advances in woodwind design occurred here.

    When studying the history of a woodwind instrument it is tempting to count and describe keys, presuming that this is all that we need to know. This presumption is false; the devel-opment of an instrument did not occur in a vacuum, nor consist solely of the addition of keys. To understand the development of a wood-wind instrument one must study key systems, the metal used to make the keys, the method of mounting the keys to the body, manufacturing methods, the wood used for the body, the deco-rative designs placed on the wood, the dimen-sions of the bore, toneholes and vents, the design of the reed, the players concept of what the instrument should sound like and how that sound can be achieved, the instruments role in the orchestra and its compass or range. Because the oboes Parisian development was profoundly influenced by work carried out on other instru-


    FIGURE 1. Two key oboe by Geh-ring, Leipzig 1755-1811; 12 key

    oboe (originally 2-9 keys) by Guil-laume Tribert, Paris, circa 1815; Sellner model oboe by Ludwig &

    Martinka, Prague, 1857-86.

    FIGURE 2: Trademark of Gehring oboe.


    ments, I will touch on the history of the flute and clarinet as well.


    In 1800 the orchestral wood-wind choir was clearly defined as pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets and bassoons. The oldest of the stan-dard woodwinds was the two keyed oboe. The Eroica Symphony (1803) was probably premiered on an oboe such as the Gehring in figures 1 and 2. Johann Christian Gehring and his son Heinrich Gottfried Geh-ring made woodwinds in Leipzig between 1755-1811, possbily in con-junction with Gottlieb Crone5. This instrument dates from circa 1780, and plays very well at A430. It is of boxwood, the standard material of 18th cen-tury woodwinds, and has brass keys. The simple scale of the two keyed oboe is D, with a flat F#6. G# was produced by a double hole on 3; F, Bb1 and c2 by cross fingerings, Eb and c1 (the lowest note on the oboe) by the two keys; c#1 was absent. Notes above the staff were made by long cross fingerings as overblown lower octave fingerings were less stable. An octave key was not required on the two keyed oboe; when first added during the 19th century, it was not used as on a modern oboe, but only to assist with upward slurs and occasional awkward intervals using the short fingerings. Tellingly, it was called the slur or speaker key2. The tone holes were undercut, the bell had an internal rim and two vent holes, and the bore expanded acutely at each joint. The reed well was in the form of an inverted cone and the reed was usually not placed all the way to the bottom of the well.

    The two keyed oboe had great tonal flexibil-ity but limited technique in chromatic passages or in keys remote from C. The early acoustician J. A. Charles in 1802 noted that The oboe plays very well in the keys of C, F and E flat; it is extremely difficult in the sharp keys; and prac-tically impossible in the key of E major7. Why was playing in sharp (or very flat) keys so hard? Because of several balky fingerings. The player had to humor F# up into tune, using a double hole on 4 and the Eb key; G# is awkward in pas-sages going to F, E or D, as the left hand must pivot around a tiny radius; there was no low c#1 while c#2 was flat; and the interval c#2-d#2 required that the player shift from one flat key for the right pinkie to another without leaving any gap between the notes.

    Knowing this gives us insight into the oboe and oboe damore writing of Bach and Telemann, as opposed to the classical masters. In the baroque era, oboes typically doubled violins in tuttis, writing was very florid and the oboist was fre-quently exposed as a soloist in can-tata or instrumental writing in sharp keys. Composers knew the capabil-ities of their players; baroque era oboe solos are almost always in the comfortable keys of G, C, F, or Bb, less commonly in D or Eb. But not all music was written in these keys. The oboe damore provided a color to the baroque orchestra but more importantly allowed the oboist to function as a soloist in the concert keys of A or E major. Bach rarely

    writes for the oboe in A major, or for the oboe damore in flat keys.

    The baroque oboe damore had a very pale, monochromactic sound (at least in modern reconstructions) which was poorly suited to music written in the predominantly Italianate late 18th century styles. Also, oboe writing in the clas-sical period was simpler and more restrained; the oboist rarely needed to play a lot of notes in A or E major, and certainly not in a solo capacity. Thus the oboe damore no longer had a reason to exist, and it died with Bach and Telemann as a new fashion of oboe writing replaced the old.

    As the 19th century began, keys were added to the oboe in an ad hoc fashion to meet the needs of new musical styles and to improve pitch2,8,9,10. Many players and makers were skepti-cal about adding keys2; the prominent Dresden

    maker Heinrich Grenser and the virtuoso Wilhelm The-odor Johann Braun wrote articles opposing the addi-tion of keys to the oboe8,11. This may have been because leather pads closing on flat holes in boxwood seal poorly12 and impair the resis-tance and tone of the oboe. To improve the seal, keyed tone holes are generally drilled in flattened areas on the body (figure 3).

    But perhaps this con-servatism is the natural skepticism of a professional towards changes in his work-ing tools. A musician who has

    FIGURE 3. Tone hole design on an 18th century woodwind. This is the low c from an oboe by Thomas Cahusac (Senior),

    circa 1780.

    FIGURE 4. Construction of Eb

    and C keys on Gehring oboe.


    spent years learning to play a difficult instru-ment has little reason to give up his advantages, so long as he can continue to play well; nor do the realities of regular professional engagements make such a change practical. We see this is the twentieth century, when such logical instruments as LeBlancs Le Rationalle saxophone and the McIntyre clarinet gained no professional favor; and in the difficulties that faced British and American bassoonists changing from French to German system instruments.

    The keys on a 2 key oboe are mounted in raised wooden rings left during the turning of the wood; the upper ring is inevitably squared off and supports the Eb key (small key) and the C keys (great key) touchpiece, while the rounded lower ring holds the great keys pad (figure 4). Other original keys may be mounted in blocks left on the wood during turn-ing, as shown by the Bauer and Weygandt oboes in the previous article8. Added keys are usually (but not always!) in brass saddles8.

    The saddle is screwed into a slot cut into the wood (figure 5). Brass saddles do not bind when wood shrinks and thus may be more reliable than keys in wooden rings. Period specimens often show several added keys, effectively making a new instrument out of an old one with little change in its playing qualities. It is common to find that an oboe had several added keys which differ in their details, suggesting that they were successively added to preserve the oboes useful playing life8,13,14.


    Most French oboists in 1800 used 2 to 4 key oboes2. The first professor of oboe at the Paris Conservatoire was Franois Alex-andre Antoine Sallantin (served 1793-1816), who used a four keyed oboe3,15,16. The third key, an F# corrector, allowed F# to be played as 1234-F# key, avoiding the need for a half hole on 4. As figure 6 shows, the key was opened by the ring or pinkie finger; this was awk-ward in fast passages. The fourth

    key closed a vent hole on the bell to lower the pitch of c1. Conrey states that Sallantin played a Delusse oboe with 10 added keys3, but eight of these were added after Sallantins death17. Sal-lantin was succeeded by Auguste Georges Gus-tave Vogt (served 1816-53), who at first played a four keyed oboe but changed to a Delusse with 7 added keys around 18243,17,18. The next profes-sor, Louis Stanislaus Xavier Verroust (served 1853-63), used a Tulou oboe built with nine keys. All three of these oboes are on display at the Muse de Musique in Paris19.

    While the Parisian gray hairs used extra keys to help with pitch, younger players used keys to simplify technique2. Henri Brod (1799-1839) was a virtuoso player and later an oboe maker who made several notable improvements2,24,20. A native Parisian, Brod entered the Conservatoire at the age of 12. At 20 he was playing second oboe in the Opera orchestra to his teacher Vogt. He wrote in his Method of 1826: When buying a first instrument the beginner can economize on the exterior; but above all he must get an instrument provided with all the keys. Other-wise, having an instrument that is not in tune, he will be obliged to force certain notes up or down and will become used to poor fingering habits which avoid the keys. Advanced or begin-ning students who cannot appreciate the qual-ity of an instrument would do well to leave the choice to a good teacher...The best oboes are made in Paris at Triberts. Those of Delusse are also very well regarded but one is always obliged to add keys, because in Delusses time the instru-ment only had two21,22.

    Garniers oboe tutor of 1800 recommended oboes made in the exact proportions of Delusses model5,23. Sallantin, Vogt and Brod used and recommended oboes by Delusse, as did Veny, another prominent player, in 182824. This is odd; was no one making fine oboes in Paris at

    the turn of the 19th century? It says much about the social insta-bility of the French revolution and Napoleonic era that the finest oboists in France advocated using oboes by a maker who had died 40 years earlier25. One might ask, how many major modern players use B series Lores?

    The workshop of Jacques Delusse and Christophe Delusse flourished from 1748 to 17895or did it? Evidence concerning Delusse is confusing; it is even unclear if these makers were father and son or the same person

    FIGURE 5. Metal saddle with Eb key

    as added to Tribert 12 key oboe, circa


    FIGURE 6. F# corrector on Tribert oboe circa 1815; note the identical location of the F# vent on Lore

    oboe CY68 (1973).


    working under different names5,26. Jacques was listed as one of five woodwind makers in the Community of Master Musical Instrument Makers in 17485; Christophe Delusse was made a Master in the Community, on 10 May 175827. Was Jacques Delusse an earlier maker or the same person as Christophe, elevated to Master in 1758?26.

    The Community of Master Musical Instru-ment Makers28 is an interesting organization, a loose association of makers which enforced quality standards among its members and pro-moted the sale of their products. A recent paper describes the Community and lists all the makers who were members from 1723 to 1789 (except for 1731 to 1734, the records of which were lost)26. Makers could join the Community of Masters by working as an apprentice and presenting a masterwork (exhibition instrument); by being the son of a maker; by the award of a privilege (brevet) by the members of the Community; by the award of the Kings Council (conseil du roi); by past experience; by the deliberation of the Community; or by the award of a privilege upon completing an apprenticeship specifically for orphans in lHpital de la Trinit.

    Such manufacturers organizations were common in 18th century Europe, in a time when large industrial firms were unknown; they were remnants of the Medieval trade guilds. Their attitude survived the Industrial Revolution in such Parisian woodwind makers as Le Union de la facture instrumentale, Association fraternelle douvriers facteur dinstruments de vent, Associ-ation gnrale des ouvriers, and Ouvriers runis association gnrale, which flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries5,29.

    The Delusses Paris shop made various wood-winds including galoubets (French bagpipes), bird whistles, flutes and bassoons5,30. However, they were most noted for their oboes; 25 of the 43 Delusse specimens listed in Phillip Youngs 4900 Historical Woodwind Instruments30 are oboes of one sort or another. These included curved cors anglais, tenor oboes (straight oboes in F with wider bores than a cor anglais), and the only known contrabass oboe, two octaves below the usual oboe5,30. Jacques oboes were illustrated in Diderot and dAlemberts famous Encyclopdie of 1769, in the article Musique penned by M. de Lusse (this was Charles de Lusse, who apparently was not related to Jacques Delusse)5. The Delusses work was highly regarded in their time; of the 18 Delusse oboes known to exist, half have added keys30, showing that players liked them enough to keep them up to date. Michel Piguet has recorded the Mozart Oboe Quartet on a two keyed Delusse oboe31. Curiously, 6 of the

    18 Delusse oboes are of woods other than box (2 of cedar, one each of cocuswood, ebony, vio-letwood and palissandre), as are 8 of their 15 known flutes and whistles30,32.

    No Delusse clarinets are known. This might suggest a rarity of use of that instrument in Paris before 1790; the great French clarinet makers Michel Amlingue, Joseph Baumann and Jacques Franois Simiot opened their ateliers in 1782, 1790 and 18085. However, it is more likely a sign of the Delusses specialization in oboes, or of the ravages of history. Clarinets were initially made in Paris in small numbers beginning in the mid-1750s. Gluck was obliged to substitute clarinets for cors anglais in the 1774 Paris premiere of Orphe et Euridice33,34. Evidence for the construc-tion of many clarinets in eighteenth-century Paris is found in the inventory of the Prudent work-shop in 178635,36, probably undertaken on the death of the proprietor and father, Prudent Thi-erriot. The shop contained 143 clarinets (in Bb, C, D, and F), 22 oboes, 58 bassoons, 177 flutes, 36 fifes, 261 flageolets, and 41 recorders. Of the three surviving Prudent clarinets none appear early enough to be made by Prudent pre, but he had three sons. The first son, Jean-Baptiste Pru-dent Thieriot (born 1762) is absent from Paris after 1792 and not heard of after this date. The extant Prudent clarinets were probably made by his second son, Nicolas-Louis Prudent Thieriot (1777-1822), known as a key maker from 1793. There was also a third son and maker of instru-ments, Jean-Franois Prudent Thieriot (born 1781), who made instruments until 18115,27.

    Unfortunately, examples of French clarinets before 1800 are quite scarce today; many makers are known by a single specimen37. By the 1770s most French clarinets were made for military use. One logical explanation for the dearth of early French clarinets is that most of these instruments perished during the French Revolution (1789), during which numerous sym-bols of Royalty, the Catholic Church and the military were destroyed or defaced. Alter-nately, the Napoleonic Wars may have ruined earlier instruments and caused their replacement by later spec-imens. Certainly a clarinet would make excellent fire-wood for a French soldier shivering on his way back from Moscow during the winter of 1812.

    FIGURE 7. Half hole apparatus as added to Tribert oboe, circa 1840.



    The Delusses work was con-tinued by Henri Brod, who obtained their oboe making tools and began making his own innovative oboes by 18292,5,30, at times in conjunction with his younger brother Jean-Godefroy5. He anticipated the modern English horn by devis-ing a straight form of the instru-ment21. To improve the reliabil-ity of Eb2 and pitch of c#3, Brod developed a half hole plate, which has been a part of virtually every oboe mechanism since (figure 7). He ultimately adopted the c#1 mecha-nism shown in figure 25, eliminated the bell vent to standardize the lowest note as B, and mini-mized the internal bell rim (figure 8). Of 11 Brod oboes recorded in Young30, two have a single vent and the others, none. His oboes are slim and elegant, perhaps the sveltest oboes ever made13,14,38 (figures 9, 10).

    Whereas 18th century flutes are usually beautifully simple, oboes were almost always graced with elegant and elab-orate turnings. It is for good reason that modern copies of 18th century oboes are some-times dismissed as chair legs, for more than one noted oboe maker began his work as a furni-ture maker5. Particular design schemes are characteristic of individual makers and of oboes made for different purposes. Even the plainest 18th century oboes, the English straight-top oboe, often has elaborate carv-ing on the lower joint and bell39,40. Cecil Adkins has shown that the 18th century oboe uses then-contemporary archi-tectural motifs derived from classical Greek and Roman models41. He illustrates how the ornamental elements on the facade of a two story building of that period have exact homo-logues in the turning of an oboe, suggesting a common underly-ing sense of proportion in archi-tects and oboe makers. Brods work, with its simple elegance, represented an extreme depar-ture from that esthetic.

    Boxwood had long been the preferred wood for oboes. Gar-nier wrote in 1798, The box-wood of which the oboe is made must be quite dry, with-out nodes and of a very close to equal porosity throughout its length. A piece of boxwood never has same porosity throughout. As experiment shows that the top of the instru-ment always has less influence on the sound than the rest of the body, the maker must use the

    hardest wood for the top and the softest for the bottom.23

    Brod wrote that One can try several kinds of wood in manufacturing oboes, such as ebne, grenadilla, cedar and boxwood. Boxwood always offers the best results, its tone quality is supe-rior not only for sweetness and flexibility but for strength and balance. Cedar, however, should not be scorned, it makes for beautiful instru-ments and gives a very soft tone which is appro-priate in small rooms21,42. However, Brod did not follow his own advice in his choice of wood for making oboes, preferring tropical hardwoods to European boxwood. Young includes data on 12 oboes by Brod or Brod Frrs; 3 are of box-wood, 6 are of rosewood and one each are grena-dilla, violetwood and maple30. Let us contrast this to the habits of Brods contemporaries. Forty-nine of 50 known oboes by Augustin and Heinrich Grenser (Dresden, 1744-1813) are of boxwood. So are 29 of 30 by William Milhouse (London, 1787-1840), 5 of 6 by Prudent (Paris, 1765-1830), 12 of 15 by Stephan Koch (Vienna, 1807-66), 4 of 4 by Dominique Antony Porthaux (Paris 1782-1824) and 11 of 11 by George Astor (London, 1778-1831)30. Clearly, Brod had a reason to favor the harder woods (as had Delusse), probably relat-ing to the greater sta-bility of these woods with changes in humid-ity, an attribute that was of increasing value as more keys were added.

    Young notes that the keys on Brods oboes are of unbelievable lightness and delicacy, per-haps more so than any oboe keys before or since14. This facility was obtained by placing tiny circular metal shims between each rod and

    FIGURE 8. Bell rim of Tribert 12 key oboe.

    FIGURE 9. Oboe by Henri Brod, 1828-39. This

    specimen is less slender than

    those illustrated in the

    references, but the key work is

    indeed extremely

    smooth. Col-lection of the

    late Josef Marx, by kind permis-sion of Deborah


    FIGURE 10. Trademark of Brod oboe.


    post to smooth the motion of the rod. Note on Brods oboes, as well as on all the other French oboes illus-trated in this paper, how the keys are much more elegant and pleasing in form than those on contempo-rary eastern European oboes shown in the last paper8.

    Brod died aged 39 years, depriving the oboe of a major innovator. It is said that he died while giving a recital in Algeria13,15, although this is a romantic legend5,20. Goossens notes of the composer Cherubini, When told, Brod est mort, maitre, he replied: Qui? Brod Ah! Petit son!(small sound)15,43. Apparently the attitudes of composers toward musicians have not changed greatly in 160 years.

    By 1811 Iwan Mller (a German then living in Paris)5 had introduced a 13 key clar-inet which gave the player more technical facility in all tonalities (figures 11-13) with-out excessive use of cross fingerings44,45,46. The old cross fingerings remain valid on Mllers clarinet and can be used freely. To avoid the leaks inherent from added keys, Mller invented the modern pad as a small ball of leather stuffed with wool and sewn shut. His key cups were hemispheri-cal (salt spoon); later makers used cardboard shims behind the wool with flat key cups. Mller was the first to countersink keyed tone

    holes, allowing a perfectly sealed pad and eliminating the leaks that plagued early keys44,45(figure 14). By 1814, when Beethoven wrote his 7th and 8th Sym-

    phonies, such multiple key systems were rou-tinely available on other woodwinds but still variable on the oboe9. It is likely that the most modern designs were used only by adventurous professionals or wealthy amateurs who would spend enough money to purchase the most advanced instruments.

    One wonders why the oboe added keys and achieved mechanization after the flute, clarinet and bassoon. The answer is basically that other instruments needed more help than the oboe47. In general, cross fingerings on the clarinet are not as successful, especially in the low register, as on flutes, oboes, and bassoons; thus the clarinet with 5 keys was standard as early as 1800. The enormous number of flutes made for amateur players led to an early proliferation of improve-ments to that instrument; however, the old cross fingerings work well on many flutes, including those with more than 8-keys27.

    Cross and double-holed fin-gerings work better on the oboe than on other woodwinds. The reason lies in the relatively broad, supple reed used in the 18th century47,48. Such a reed gave these oboists greater flex-ibility of pitch and voicing than we have today; thus the oboe did not need keys as soon as the flute or clarinet. A broad, bassoon-like reed gives the two keyed oboe a fabulous low reg-ister while a narrower, smaller reed supports the high notes

    better49,50 and encourages the use of the simpler short fingerings. Although 18th and early 19th century reeds are quite rare51 a fair number of datable French reeds exist from the mid 19th century. These are illustrated9,10,21,50-52 and dis-

    FIGURE 11. Mller system clarinet in Eb by Buthod &

    Thibouville (Paris 1857-67). Five key Eb clari-net by Graves (Winchester NH 1830-50). The Graves is analogous to the two keyed

    oboe while the Buthod &Thibouville is analogous

    to the 10-12 key simple system oboe.

    FIGURE 12. Graves trademark.

    FIGURE 13. Buthod & Thibouville trademark.

    FIGURE 14. Mllers method of countersinking tone holes.


    cussed21, 50-53 in several references. Brod, of course, had something to say about

    the reed and the sound of the oboe. He wrote, The quality of the sound depends on the reed and especially on the choice of the cane. I will describe at the beginning of the second part of this Method, the manner of making reeds; it is good that a pupil play upon those of his Master, to be in a position to know well what constitutes a good reed. The making of reeds is not the same in different countries where one plays the Oboe; the Italians, the Germans and in general almost all foreigners make them stronger than us. Therefore they have a hard sound which misses the essen-tial nature of the instrument, and makes their playing so painful that it becomes tiring for the listeners. The quality of sound which is obtained from the oboe in France is indisput-ably the finest, and brings the oboe closer to the sound of the Violin.54

    Early in the century the oboe reed was fairly broad, with a conspicuous expansion of the width towards the tip to as much as 8-9 mm. There was a continual narrowing of the cane through the mechanization of the oboe, so that by the end of the Tribert period the modern form, with a width of about 6.5 mm and almost parallel sides, was fully established in France. Figure 15 shows modern reconstructions of reeds for oboes from circa 1720, 1780, 1805, 1860 and 1993.


    Mllers advances were adopted by oboe makers. Figure 1 also shows a much altered Parisian oboe of circa 181555. It is by Guillaume Tribert, the predominant oboe maker of the 19th century56. Born Georg Wilhelm Ludwig Triebert in Storndorf, Hesse (then a Grand Duchy, now a central German state) in 1770, he learned fur-

    niture making5 and engraving2, crafts that would prove useful to an oboe maker. He walked to Paris in 1804, becoming a French citizen 7 years later. Tribert founded his atelier in 1810. His first trademark was a little tower with three stones (merlons) on top (figure16a). It is believed that in 1848 when Guillaume died and his sons Charles-Louis and Frdric took over the firm, the word Bre-vet (patented) was added above the tower (figure16b). Frdric died unexpectedly in 1878, leading to a crisis during which Franois Lore, who had been foreman since 18672,

    founded his own firm5. Triberts excellent repu-tation is shown by the fact that as late as 1913, the cover page of the Lore catalog noted that F. Lore was former shop foreman for the Tribert firm57. The modern firm of Lore thus represents an uninterrupted link to Guillaume Tribert and the first mechanised oboes.

    In 1881 the Tribert family sold their trade-mark to Gautrot (later, Couesnon) but required that a fourth stone be added to the tower (figure16c). Figure 16d shows the trademark from a Couesnon-Tribert oboe dating to circa 1930. An oboe marked Tribert can thus be assigned to a range of dates by the trademark14 as well as

    FIGURE 15. Modern reeds intended for copy of Denner oboe, circa 1720; for Geh-

    ring oboe, circa 1780; for copy of Floth oboe, circa 1805; ; for Tribert oboe, circa

    1860; for Lore oboe KL40, 1993. Tip widths are 8.9, 8.0, 7.4, 7.2 and 6.9 mm


    FIGURE 16. Trademarks of the Tribert firm. A, 1810-48 (from Tribert oboe in figure 23). B, 1849-80. C, after 1881. D, mid 20th century.

    A. B. C. D.


    by the details of the body and key work58. Tribert instruments bear-ing the 4 merlon mark were not made by the Tribert family and are not examples of the oboes early development. By the time that the company passed out of the fam-ilys hands, all modern varieties of French oboe except Systeme 6 bis, the modern French plateau keyed oboe, had been developed2.

    Before 1881 Tribert made oboes and bassoons almost exclusively; a single clarinet from the Gautrot era and 7 early flutes are mentioned in Young,30 while two other clarinets and a saxophone are known from the Gautrot or Couesnon eras27. Guil-laume Triberts flutes were simple system instruments with one to eight keys30; two are shown in Gianni-nis history of French flute makers59. A Tribert prospectus from circa 186060 shows 26 double reed wood-winds including hautbois pastorale (musettes), oboes in Eb, Db, C and Bb, cors anglais, baritone oboes and bassoons11,61,62,63.

    Guillaume Tribert was very interested in modernizing the oboe; of 101 three merlon specimens listed in Young, only one oboe and two English horns are known with 2 key design30. During the years 1840-1875, the firm introduced 6 systemes of oboe key work. These were the Systeme 3, introduced in 1840; the

    Systeme 4 of 1843; the Systeme 5 (thumb plate system) of 1849; Charles-Louis Triberts revision of the Boehm oboe and the Barret Systeme, both introduced in 1855; and Frdric Triberts Systeme 6 of 1875.9,10,11,58

    The 12 keyed oboe in figure 1 has the three merlon trademark, which shows faintly in figure 5. It was probably built with 9 or fewer keys. The great and Eb keys are clearly original, as they are mounted in turnings. The left hand Eb is certainly added, as the low B has been moved laterally to make room for this key (figure 17a). It has a salt spoon cup, rather than a flat cup as elsewhere on the oboe; it traverses a brass sleeve in the squared key ring on the boxwood, which the other keys lack; and it lacks a square design element which is on the keys that are unquestion-ably original (figures 17 b,c). The long keys for low B and Eb are levers rather than a single axle and the bell has a thick internal rim.

    Other changes are evident. The octave key is probably added, as it is mounted on posts as on a modern oboe, rather than a saddle; posts were invented by Theobald Boehm around 1830.64 It has the only needle spring on the oboe (invented circa 1840 by Auguste Louis Buffet)45 and lacks design elements common to

    FIGURE 17. Evidence of changes made to Tribert oboe. A, shows repositioning of the saddle used to add low B key.

    B, repair to ring passing the key for left hand Eb; note the shape of the cup. C, right hand Eb key showing original cup style.

    B. C.A.

    FIGURE 18. C#1 apparatus on Tribert (above) and Bauer (below) oboes. The Tribert apparatus is almost certainly

    added; the Bauer may be origi-nal. The Bauer is from Prague,

    circa 1805.


    the original keys. The evidence of other spec-imens is interesting on this point. A Tribert oboe owned by Han de Vries13,14 is identical to this oboe but without octave key, half hole, or left hand Eb. This suggests those keys were added to the oboe in figure 1. A specimen in a Paris museum is identical to De Vries, but with a side c2 key65, while MacGillivray displays an oboe from his own collection which resembles DeVr-ies oboe but with octave key, half hole and side c2 key66. It seems likely that Triebert made oboes with key systems to order.

    LOW B, C AND C#

    The c#1 apparatus seen on this and similar French oboes differs from the c#1 keys on the Germanic oboes shown in my last column (figure 18). In those, a small thin key opens a tiny hole below the c1 hole. The touch of that key over-laps the touchpiece of the great key so that when c#1 is pressed, c1 closes and c#1 opens. The two keys are side by side. On this oboe, a box-like apparatus contains both keys. The c#1 key over-lies the c1 key, and the touch of the great key extends farther back. Thus, the same effect can be obtained; if the great key is pressed, the large hole is closed. If c#1 is pressed, both keys operate, c1 closes and c#1 opens to produce the tone c#1. On the French oboe the spring that keeps the great key opened and the c#1 key closed is between the two keys, and does not contact the wood of the oboe.

    C#1 boxes identical to this are seen on the deVries, Paris and MacGillivray specimens mentioned above. Another is shown on the oboes drawn in Henri Brods Method of 182621,67 and on Sallantins oboe. Since writing the last column I have had the opportunity to study the Floth oboe at Yale; it has a similar box, but made of silver. On the Tribert oboe in figure 1, removing the box reveals a channel cut in the wood under the c#1 key. This is the location of the spring for the great key when there is no c#1 appara-tus; this implies that my oboe was built without a c#1 key. Most likely on these oboes, the box was placed after the oboe was completed to add the missing semitone to the oboes range. It is reasonable to suppose that Parisian mak-ersincluding Tribertused a standard mech-anism to extend the capabilities of earlier oboes. Tribert probably had a drawer full of these c#1

    keys, which could be added to any extant oboe by removing the old great key, drilling and coun-tersinking the c#1 hole, applying the new appa-ratus, and replacing the great key. The whole operation might take a half hour.

    This all relates to the key on the oboes bell. A modern oboist assumes that this key closes to produce low B. However, the Tribert oboe in figure 1 has a second bell vent which is filled with wax and cork (figure 19), showing that the bell key on this oboe was originally not a low B, but rather a low C corrector. On early oboes with a bell key, if an unkeyed bell vent is present, the bell key flattens low c1 down to pitch. If there is no bell vent or if a second vent has been filled, the key gives low B17.

    Why is this so? On the two keyed oboe the great key was closed to produce c1 and c#2 through paired holes in the bell; c1 was very sharp and c#2, very flat. Neveu wrote in 1772 that Low C is always false; it is too high to be a C natural, and too low to be C#, even while forcing. Consequently I have put a crescent over these notes (ie, in his example) to see that these sounds are not given. One should be especially careful of these notes in a Solo. The only time to play it unaltered is as a passing tone. (He

    gives examples).... In this Example (an arpeggio down to c1) before the low C make a little rest, one can then release the lips a little, which makes it less false....It is similar for C#, which is of similar degree68.

    On such an oboe, one can also bring c1 down to pitch by closing one of the vents against the knee; closing both produces a B. Makers learned to correct the pitch of c#2 by enlarging the leftmost vent on the bell and placing a key on it. The c#2 was raised from being flat by the enlargement of the keyed vent hole. However, this made the low c1 intolerably sharp. Hence the bell key; closing the c1 key and this new bell key produced a perfect c1. The

    earliest example of this that I have seen is a Delusse oboe from circa 1785, now owned by Geoffrey Burgess; the date of the added key is uncertain69.

    Two keyed oboes, of course, had no c#1 key. When the c#1 assembly was added, the new key was used for c#1, and the traditional fingering was used for c#2. This may seem illogical but it is typical; the early 19th century oboe had numer-ous notes that fingered differently at the octave: f#1, a1, Bb1, b1 and c2. Players were accustomed

    FIGURE 19. Obliterated bell vent on Tribert 12 key oboe.


    to these fingerings.Period fingering charts prove this point.

    Vogts Methode de Hautbois (1813) has a chart showing a four keyed oboe, having only c1 corrector, c1, Eb and F# corrector keys; this is the oboe as used by Vogt and Sallantin. The chart shows the bell key closed for low c1; c#1 does not appear on this chart70. The charts from two editions of Henri Brods Method of circa 1830 show a bulb topped 9 key French oboe21,67. The bell key and the great key are pressed for c1; the c#1 key for c#1; and the great key, for c#2.

    Two pages from the French translation of Joseph Sellners Theoretisch praktische Oboe Schule (written 1825, translated circa 1830) were kindly given to me by Dr. Albert Rice71. One shows a 9 keyed French instrument (with no speaker key!), upon which the bell key is labeled Grande clef dUT bas (Big key for low C). The fingering chart shows this and the c1 key depressed for c1. The other page illustrates a Sellner model oboe, on which this key is marked Clef de SI (B key). The fingering chart shows that this does, indeed, produce a low B. German oboe makers had learned that the c#1 tone hole could be altered to give a properly pitched c#2 with the same fingering. Filling in the other small vent on the bell put c1 into good tune, with the long key now giving B, not c1. There are no proven examples of an oboe made outside of France with a c1 corrector72.

    The use of a bell key as a low C corrector has been consistently misinterpreted by histo-rians although the evidence of instruments, fin-gering charts, and composers habits is unmis-takable17. Only one major English language ref-erence on the history of the oboe mentions the c1 corrector, and then only in a footnote73; else-where it is always listed as a low B9,10,11,14,30,58,74-76. One writer printed Vogts fingering chart but overlooked this fingering in an otherwise very detailed article on Vogts music70. Another stud-ied a later instrument that lacked the vent hole and concluded that the low C fingering in Brods charts, although consistently shown using this key, was an obvious error!77. This conceit does not belong only to modern oboists; Auguste Bruyant studied with Vogt in the 1840s. He added a note to Vogts fingering chart to the effect that the master must be wrong; but of course Bruyant was the one who didnt understand17.

    This explains the avoidance of low B by com-posers through the mid 1800s. I can find no low Bs in Berlioz, although my search was not comprehensive. The lack of the low B on early 19th century oboes produced some inter-

    esting writing. See, for example, bars 52-55 of the second move-ment of the Schubert Unfin-ished Symphony (figure 20). Note that the flute carries the chordal motif from e2 down to b1. The oboe, alone of any instrument in this movement, moves instead from e1 up to f#1. Schubert avoided a note that did not always exist on the oboe he knew. Knowing this, should modern oboists play a B here? Carses comment that before the mid-(19th) century

    the B-natural, a semitone lower, was sometimes available seems the best summation of the situ-ation78. The low C corrector carries two morals for students of early instruments: Things are not always as they seem to a modern player; and whenever possible, consult and believe period sources.

    Getting back to the Tribert oboe in figure 1, I am unsure if the half hole, side c2, side Bb, G#, F# corrector and short F keys are original or added. The workmanship on the indisputably original portions of this oboe is wonderful; for example, the bell ivory is threaded onto the wood of the bell. All keys except Eb and the c1 key are saddle mounted, and thus could be added on. Few of the saddles are applied in a fully satisfac-tory manner; some look tacked-on. I doubt that Tribert would have made such an oboe as new; his craftmanship was too fine. One can thus rea-sonably argue that this oboe started with as few as two keys, or as many as nine. I conclude that this was originally a four keyed oboe and that Tribert added side c2, side Bb, G#, c#1 and short F as a first modification. Another (less gifted) craftsman, using keys from a different source, later added a half hole, octave and the left hand Eb key, while simultaneously moving the low c1 corrector laterally and converting it into a low B by plugging the bell vent.


    By 1824, the year of Beethovens 9th Sym-phony, 10-13 keyed oboes were in general use; German oboes tended to have more keys than French. In 1825 the Mainz woodwind maker Schott9 made 2 key and 14 key oboes; these latter (and 12 key Mller clarinets) were labeled new

    FIGURE 20. Bars 52-55 of the Schubert Unfinished Symphony, second movement. Shown are flutes, oboes and clarinets in A.


    invention. The 14 keys were octave, right hand and left thumb keys for Bb and C (all located on the upper joint), left hand G# plus double 3 holes, upper B-C# trill, F# corrector, long and short F, left and right hand keys for Eb, low C#, C, and B6,8,47. This is the typical Sellner model oboe (figure 1)9,79, which con-tinued (with minor variation) to be used in Eastern Europe and Italy until the 20th cen-tury. Note the left hand F on this circa 1870 oboe. Bor-rowed from the flute (figures 21, 22), this key is found on Sellner oboes as early

    as 182514,71,80, although it only appears on French oboes before the 20th century in Barrets 1855 system52,81.

    Figure 23 shows three Parisian oboes, two from circa 1830. The left oboe82 is by Frdric Guillaume Adler (figure 24), yet another German migr5 who worked in Paris from 1808 until his death in 1854. It has 10 keys, all of which appear original. The keys, including the speaker key, are now plate mounted rather than ring mounted. There are no duplicate keys for F or Bb. Note that the layout of the right hand pinkie keys has been improved. The c#1 box is gone, replaced by a much more graceful

    apparatus that uses a touchplate to link the c1 and c#1 keys (Figure 25). The c#1 touch moves two keys in opposite directions to open c#1 while closing c1. Side keys for c2 and Bb allow an alternative to the use of cross finger-ings. The top baluster is retained and may have been been short-ened by 7 mm (as sug-gested by the case, which may be original); however, the cylindrical reed well is the same depth (11 mm) as on the Triebert and the Buffet. A reed box which is preserved with the oboe suggests that the reeds had a length of 60-63 mm and a width at the tip of approximately 7.5-8.5 mm. Note the lack of a half hole key. Several cracks in the top joint have kept me from restoring this oboe to playing condition.

    With the Adler is an oboe by Buffet83. The trademark does not match that of any of the seven Buffets making woodwinds in Paris then (Figure 26)5; I suspect it is by Denis Buffet (flourished 1825-42) or Jean Louis Buffet, who founded the firm of Buffet-Crampon which flourishes today. The oboe is similar to the Adler but more slender (like a Brod), and has a single rather than double hole for 4. Several factors sug-gest it is later than the Adler. The speaker key is post mounted but has a flat spring rather than a needle spring. Note the new design of the baluster, which now displays a long finial that became fash-ionable among French makers. The bore is

    FIGURE 22. A simi-lar long F on Nich-

    olson model flute by Clementi (London),

    circa 1825.

    FIGURE 23. Oboes by Frdric Adler (Paris 1808-1854), by Buffet, (Paris circa 1830) and by Guillaume Tribert (Paris 1840-1848). All

    are boxwood with brass keys and ivory mounts.

    FIGURE 24. Adlers trademark.

    FIGURE 25. C# apparatus on Buffet oboe. This is the typical French right hand pinkie finger apparatus from the time of Brod

    to the mid 1840s.

    FIGURE 26. Buffet trademark.

    FIGURE 21. Sellner

    model oboe by Ludwig &

    Martinka, showing left

    hand F.


    narrower, and there is a thumb rest, which has been moved from its original position84. It plays well with a reed such as shown in the center of figure 15, giving better longnotes with the tradi-tional long fingerings than with the short finger-ings using the speaker key.

    The simple system oboe with 10 to 12 keys had advantages over the 2 keyed oboe. It pro-vided alternatives to cross fingerings for Bb1, c2 and F, allowed a well-tuned F#, and had a complete chromatic scale. The French simple system oboe is more complicated than the 8-key oboes discussed in the December column8 but less complex than the Sellner system, as it lacks the duplicate touches for several keys; it is the equivalent of Mllers 13 key clarinet. Every half step in the instruments range is available and it plays with facility in most keys. Both the old style forked fingerings and the new fingerings using keys are valid on this instrument. It is the apogee of a simple system oboe.

    By simple system I mean that the oboe is based upon the 2 keyed oboe, with keys added in a more or less standardized manner. The instru-ment has not been redesigned from ground zero, only improved. It is not mechanized in that most any individual key could be dispensed with and the oboe would still play; except for c1-c#1, there are no mechanical linkages between any two keys.

    Such an oboe meets the difficult, chromatic music of Berlioz, Mendelssohn and other mid 19th century composers with assurance. This is the oboe for which Berlioz wrote in the Sym-phonie Fantastique; his description of the oboes tone in his Treatise on Instrumentation is reveal-ing: Artless grace, pure innocence, mellow joy, the pain of a tender soulall these the oboe can render admirably with its cantabile. A certain degree of excitement is also within its power; but one must guard against increasing it to the cry of passion, the stormy outburst of fury, menace or heroism; for then its small voice, sweet and somewhat tart at the same time, becomes com-pletely grotesque85,86.

    This oboe design had some flaws. First among them was the F# corrector, obligatory for f#1 and useful for f#2. It was awkward to use in fast passages; Berlioz describes the F# major arpeg-gio as being quite difficult85. Excepting Brods oboes, venting of the half hole was inconsistent, depending on how much the player rolled his finger down; the note Eb2 was particularly unsta-ble. The preferred fingerings for f#2, a2, Bb2, b2 and c3 did not match those of the lower octave. The right hand pinkie finger keys did not permit easy movement between c1, c#1 and Eb1. The

    G# key was too small and high on the instrument (to avoid being located on the central tenon) and produced a rather strained sound compared to the half-holed G#, which could be shaded by the player. The c#1 key was likewise too small and high, placed where it was to avoid compromis-ing the lower tenon, and producing a squawky sound. The side key fingering for c2, being vented from a very tiny hole, was of poor quality. There being no articulations between various keys, cer-tain combinations were difficult to play quickly and impossible to trill. Berlioz noted that of 61 possible whole and half step trills within the range of the oboe (B to f3), 13 were difficult and 13 others impossible85.

    Having analyzed the flaws of the French simple system oboe, Guilliaume Tribert mech-anized the oboe, introducing his Systeme 3 in 1840. The last oboe in figure 23 is an early Tribert Systeme 3 oboe, with a 3 merlon mark on all joints87. I leave this as a teaser, as I had intended to discuss this and later mechanical developments in this column. But the hour is late and I do not want to tire the reader (or myself) any more than I have already. Triberts mecha-nization of the French oboe will wait for the next issue of the Double Reed.


    Drs. Geoffrey Burgess and Albert Rice reviewed the manuscript, provided references and offered innumerable helpful suggestions and corrections. I thank them both for their valuable help.


    1. Barzun, Jacques. From Dawn to Decadence. 500 Years of Western Cultural Life. HarperCollins publishers, New York 2000. Pages 491-518

    2. Bate, Philip. The Oboe. Ernest Benn Lim-ited, London, 1956. Pages 52-81, The Oboe in the 19th Century.

    3. Conrey, George A. The Paris Conservatory: Its Oboe Professors, Laureates (1795-1984). Jour-nal of the International Double Reed Society 14:7-17, 1986.

    4. Waterhouse, William. The New Langwill Index. A Dictionary of Musical Wind-Instrument Makers and Inventors. Tony Bingham, London 1993. Pages 474-476.

    5. Waterhouse, William. Opus cit. See refer-ences to individual makers.


    6. I use the pitch notation c1-b1 for the octave extending up from middle C. c2-b2 is the upper octave of the treble staff and low B is the note below c1. Notes that may apply to either octave are in capital letters (F, G#, etc). Fingers are labelled 1-6 from the top of the instrument down.

    7. Barbieri, Patrizio. Musical Instruments and Players in J.-A. Charles Acoustique (Paris, c. 1787-1802) and Other French Technical Sources. Journal of the American Musical Instrument Soci-ety XXIII: 94-120, 1997.

    8. Howe, Robert S. Historical Oboes 1the Development of Keywork, 1800-1820. Double Reed, December 2000, pages 21-27.

    9. Baines, Anthony. Woodwind Instruments and their History. W. W. Norton, New York 1963.

    10. Bate, Philip. Oboe. In Sadie, Stanley (ed), The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musi-cians. Macmillan, London 1980. Volume 13, pages 468-471.

    11. Joppig, Gunther. The Oboe and the Bas-soon. (Translation by Alfred Clayton of Oboe & Fagott, Halliwag AG Bern, 1981). Amadeus Press, Portland OR, 1988.

    12. Robinson, Joel. Personal communica-tions, 11/20/00, 12/8/2000

    13. de Vries, Han. Hobo damore. The collec-tion of oboes (1680-1980) of Han de Vries. Rijks-museum Twenthe, Enschede (Holland), 1999.

    14. Young, Philip T. Loan Exhibition of His-toric Double Reed Instruments. University of Vic-toria, 1988.

    15. Goossens, Leon and Roxburgh, Edwin. Oboe. Schirmer Books, New York 1977.

    16. Margelli, Tad. The Paris Conservatoire Concours Oboe Solos: The Gillet Years. Journal of the International Double Reed Society 24: 41-55, 1996.

    17. Burgess, Geoffrey. Gustav Vogt (1781-1870) und Konstrukstionsmerkmale franzsischer Oboen im 1. Viertel des 19. Jahrhunderts. (Gustave Vogt (1781-1870) and the French Oboe Design in the First Quarter of the 19th Century). Tibia 1/94 (1994): 14-26

    18. Burgess, Geoffrey. Le premier hautboste dEurope: A Portrait of Gustave Vogt: 19th-century oboe virtuoso, teacher and composer. In press.

    19. Guide du Musee de la Musique. Editions de la reunion des musees nationaux. Paris, 1997. Page 81.

    20. Andr Lardrots forthcoming biography and definitive worklist of Brods compositions (in Tibia, 2001, in press) shows that Brod died in Paris but that his oboe was then taken to Algeria.

    21. Brod, Henri. Method de Hautbois. Paris: Dufaut et Dubois, c1826. This is reprinted in Warner, Thomas E. An annotated bibliography of woodwind instruction books, 1600-1830. Detroit, 1967.

    22. In the original French, Lorsquil sagira de lacquisition dun

    premier instrument les commencants pourront bien, par mesure dconomie ne point sattacher lextrieur, mais, il ne devront rien pargner pour quil soit bon, et pourvu surtout de toutes ses clefs: sans cette prcaution ils sexposeraient contracter de mauvaises habitudes, ayant un instrument peu juste, ils seraient obligs de mnager ou forcer certains sons, selons quils seraient trop hauts ou trop bas, et shabituraient a de mauvais doigtes, que leur ferait viter lusage des clefs. Les lves ou commenants hors dtat dapprcier la qualit dun instru-ment feront bien den laisser le choix un bon professeur....Les meilleurs hautbois. Se font a Paris chez Tribert... Ceux de Delusse sont aussi tres estims mais on est toujours oblige dy faire ajouter des clefs, car de son temps linstrument nen avait que deux.21

    The translations from French are my own. I apologize to my French-speaking friends for any mayhem I may commit on their beautiful lan-guage.

    23. modle du Haut-Bois daprs Delusse, dans ses proportions xactes. This and the next quote by Garnier are from Garnier, Joseph Francois. Methode Raisonne Pour le Haut-bois, pages 2-3. Paris, circa 1798. Reprinted in Les-caut, Philippe and Saint-Arroman, Jean. Hautbois. Mthodes et Traits-Dictionnaires, pages 150-51. Editions J. M. Fuzeau, Courlay, France, 1999. This invaluable book contains complete reprints of 17 French sources on the oboe, 1636-1798.

    The original French for the quote on box-wood is Le buis, dont il est fait, doit tre bien


    sec, sans noeuds et dune porosit a peu prs gale dans toute sa longueur; je dis a peu prs egale, par ceque le mme morceau de buis na jamais la mme porosit dans toutes ses parties; mais comme lexperience dmontre que la partie du haut de linstrument influe toujours moins sur le son que produit le corps entier, le facteur doit employer la partie du bois la plus dure pour le haut et la plus molle pour le bas.

    24. Delusse oboes are recommended in Veny, Mthode abrege pour le hautbois. Paris: Pleyel et Cie, 1828. This was reprinted with some changes by V. Bretonnire as: Mthode complte pour le hautbois 8 et 15 clefs nouveau edition augmente de Tablatures des systmes Boehm et Tribert et suivie de 4 Grands Etudes par V. Bretonnire. Paris: Cotelle, rue St Honor, circa 1844-55

    25. Susan Thompson of Yale University relates that students at the Paris Conservatoire in the early winters of the nineteenth century were forced to burn old harpsichords, by Taskin and others, for heat. They started with the harpsichord stands and when these were all gone, burnt the actual instruments. The harpsi-chords had been relegated to storage after being replaced by pianos years earlier.

    26. Jean Jeltsch and Denis Watel. Matres et jurandes dans la communaut des faiseurs dinstruments de musique a Paris. (Masters and journeymen in the Parisian community of musical instrument makers). Musique-Images-Instruments 1999. No. 4 pages 8-31

    27. Rice, Albert. Personal communication, 1/14/01.

    28. Communaut des Matres Luthiers

    29. These names are of worker-owned musi-cal instrument making firms from late 19th cen-tury Paris. Le Union de la Facture Instrumentale = United Musical Instrument Makers. Associa-tion fraternelle douvriers facteur dinstruments de vent = Fraternal Association of Wind Instru-ment Makers. Association gnrale des ouvriers = Workers Association. Ouvriers runis associ-ation gnrale = Reunited workers association. Any relationship between these companies and the Communards of Paris (1871) is speculative but entirely plausible.

    30. Young, Phillip T. 4900 Historical Wood-wind Instruments. Tony Bingham, London 1993.

    See references to individual makers.

    31. Mozart, W.A. Quartet, K370 for oboe and strings. Michel Piguet, oboe. Das Alte Werk/Telefunken 6.42173AW (LP record)

    32. The words ebony, ebne, and grenadilla are often confused. Ebony is a specific African hardwood, Diospyros ebenum, the dark-colored heartwood of which is used for piano keys. The French word ebne translates literally as ebony but is sometimes used to mean grenadilla, Dal-bergia melanoxylon, which is also referred to as African blackwood and ebne de Mozambique. Note how Brod42 specifies both ebne and grena-dilla. Interestingly, the French word bniste means cabinet maker. Grenadilla (in French la grenadille), the common material of modern oboes and clarinets, is denser and harder than ebony and is readily recognized by the fact that it is heavier than water; ebony is not (see reference 2, page 129). For safety, I use the terms ebony, ebne, and grenadilla exactly as they appear in original sources; if I describe an instrument as being of grenadilla, its bell sinks in water. Palis-sandre is rosewood, a Brazilian species of genus Dalbergia having a dark red color with a strongly marked grain and a striking appearance when varnished or polished.

    33. Burgess, Geoffrey. Personal communica-

    tion, 1/3/01.

    34. Croll, Gerhard. Gluck, Christoph Wil-libald. In Sadie, Stanley (ed), The New Grove Dic-tionary of Music & Musicians. Macmillan, London 1980. Volume 7 page 465.

    35. Giannini, Tula. A French dynasty of master woodwind makers revealed, Bizey, Prudent and Portheaux, their workshop in Paris, Rue Dauphine, St. Andr des Arts, ca. 1745-1812: new archival documents. NAMIS vol. 27, no. 1 (Feb. 1998): 7-10

    36. Jeltsch, Jean. Prudent a Paris: vie et carrire dun matre faiseur dinstruments de vent. Musique-Images-Instruments no. 3 (1998): 129-152.

    37. Albert Rice lists these early French makers of clarinets, most with only one surviv-ing example: Gilles Lot (Paris, 1752-75), Martin Lot (Paris, 1743-85), Dominique Portheaux (Paris, 1782-1824), Nicolas Viennen (or Winnen, Paris, 1788-1833, brother-in-law to Jean-Franois Pru-dent), Naust (Paris, circa 1780-90), Theodore


    (Paris circa 1780-90), Bernard (Lyon, circa 1800), Cuvillier (St. Omer, after 1792), Roberty (Bor-deaux, late 18th century), and Proff (Tours, circa 1790).

    38. Young, Philip T. The Look of Music. Uni-versity of Washington Press, Seattle, 1980. Pages 148, 189-193.

    39. Adkins, Cecil. William Milhouse and the English Classical Oboe. Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society XXII; pages 42-88, 1996.

    40. Howe, Robert. Communication on Adkins, William Milhouse and the English Classical Oboe. Journal of the American Musical Instrument Soci-ety XXV; pages 164-65, 1999.

    41. Adkins, Cecil. Proportions and Architec-tural Motives in the Design of the Eighteenth-Century Oboe. Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society XXV; pages 95-132, 1999.

    42. Brods original text reads: On a essay plusieurs sortes de bois dans la fabrication de cet instrument, lEbne, la Grenadille, le Cdre et le Buis, ce dernier est celui qui a toujours offert le meilleur rsultant, il donne une qualite de son suprieure, soit sous le rapport de la douceur et du moelleux, soit sous le rapport de lnergie et du brillant. Le Cdre cependant, nest point ddaigner, il fait de fort beaux instruments et donne un son tres doux qui convient dans les appartements.21

    43. Goossens derived this anecdote from Berlioz, Hector. Les Grotesques Ce la musique (Paris: Librairie nouvelle, 1951), page 256.

    44. Brymer, Jack. Clarinet. Schirmer Books, New York 1976.

    45. Shackleton, Nicholas. The development of the clarinet. In Lawson, Colin (ed), The Cam-bridge Companion to the Clarinet. Cambridge Uni-versity Press, Cambridge, 1995. Pages 16-32.

    46. Shackleton, Nicholas and Rice, Albert, Csar Janssen and the transmission of Mllers 13-keyed clarinet in France. Galpin Society Jour-nal LII (April 1999): 183-194.

    47. Benade, Arthur H. Woodwinds: The Evolu-tionary Path since 1700. The Galpin Society Jour-nal XLVII (March 1994). Pages 63-110.

    48. Benade, Arthur H. Acoustics IV. Wind Instruments. In Sadie, Stanley (ed), The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians. Macmil-lan, London 1980. Volume 1 pages 77-82.

    49. Haynes, Bruce. A Reconstruction of Tal-bots Hautboy Reed. Galpin Society Journal LIII, 2000. Pages 78-86.

    50. Hedrick, Peter. Henri Brod on the Making of Oboe Reeds. Journal of the Interna-tional Double Reed Society 6: 7-12, 1978.

    51. Burgess, Geoffrey; Hedrick, Peter. The Oldest English Reeds? An Examination of 19 Sur-viving Examples. Galpin Society Journal 42: 32-69, 1989

    52. Barret, Apollon Marie Rose. A Complete Method for the Oboe. Second Edition, 1856. Boosey & Hawkes, London (ND).

    53. Ledet, David. Oboe Reed Styles, Theory and Practice. Indiana University Press, Blooming-ton 1981. Page 38.

    54. Brods reedmaking is discussed in ref-erence 50. His original French text reads: La qualit du son, dpend de lanche de sa confec-tion et surtout du choix du roseau. Je dcrirai au commencement de la seconde partie de cette Mthode, la manire de les faire; il est bon quun lve ait pou pendant quelque temps celles de son matre, pour tre en tat de bien connaitre ce qui constitue une bonne anche.

    La facture des anches nest point la meme dans les diffrens pays ou lon joue le Hautbois; les Italiens, les Allemands et en gnral presque tous les trangers, les font plus fortes que nous, aussi ont ils un son dur et sourd qui dnature linstrument, et rend leur excution si pnible quelle devient fatigante mme pour les audit-eurs. La qualit de son quon est parvenu obte-nir du hautbois en France est sans contredit la meillure, et qui rapproche le plus cet instrument du Violon.21

    55. Vichy (France) Auction Catalog. Instru-ments de Musique Vents et Divers. 4 December 1999. Lot 216 (illustrated)

    56. Waterhouse16 notes that Georg Tribert Frenchified (his name) as Guillaume Tribert.... However, every 19th century oboe and document that I have seen spells it Triebert, including the price list of circa 1860, where it appears 6 times. In deference to current usage I


    employ the modern spelling in this paper.

    57. Lore F, L. Lore Fils Successeur (com-pany). Prix-Courant 1913. Paris, 1913. With, Lore F, first page of 1881-82 sales ledger. Reprinted in Larigot 20: 20-29, September 1997. On the cover of the Prix-Courant (pricelist), Franois Lore is described as Ex-chef datelier de M. Tribert (The Tribert companys former foreman).

    58. Silva, Jose da. Contribution aux Tentatives de Reperage Chronologique des Hautbois Tribert fils (Frdric). Larigot number 10, February 1992. Pages 8-16

    59. Giannini, Tula. Great Flute Makers of France. The Lot & Godfroy Families 1650-1900. Tony Bingham, London 1993. Pages 83, 174.

    60. Tribert et Companie. Catalogue dinstruments et Nouveau Prix-Courant. Paris, circa 1860. Reprinted in Larigot 4, January 1989. Pp 4-7.

    61. Silva, Jose da. Catalog de la Collection dInstruments de Musique a Vent. Larigot 2 Special February 1993

    62. Kampmann, Bruno. Catalog de la Collec-tion dInstruments de Musique a Vent. Tribert, Hautbois Boehm en Re b. Larigot 9 Special Sep-tember 1998. Pages 62, 63, 105.

    63. Kampmann, Bruno. Catalog de la Collec-tion dInstruments de Musique a Vent. Triebert, Hautbois en Si b. Larigot 1 Special September 1991. Page 66. This oboe is now in the authors collection.

    64. Posts and the equipment to place them were invented, but not patented, by Theobald Boehm around 1830. See Boehm, Theobald. The Flute and Flute-Playing. Translation by Dayton C. Miller, 1922, of Die Flote und das Flotenspiel, Munich 1871. Dover Publications, NY 1964

    65. Vesian, Helene et al. Catalogue de lexposition Le roseau et la musique. In Le Roseau et la Musique. Editio Arcam/Edisud. La calade, Aix-en-Provence, France. 1988.

    66. MacGillivray, James A. The Woodwind. In Baines, Anthony, editor, Musical Instruments Through the Ages. Penguin Books, Baltimore, 1961. Pages 237-276

    67. Hedrick, Peter. A Ten-keyed Oboe by Guillaume Tribert. Journal of the International Double Reed Society 17: 19-28, 1989.

    68. Francoeur le Neveu, Louis-Joseph. Diap-son Gnrale de tous les instruments a vent. Paris, circa 1772, pages 13-14. Reprinted in Les-caut, Philippe and Saint-Arroman, Jean. Haut-bois. Mthodes et Traits-Dictionnaires, pages 93-94. Editions J. M. Fuzeau, Courlay, France, 1999.

    His original French: LUT est toujours faux; cst dire trop haut pour etre considr comme natural, et trop bas pour etre dieze, mme en forant; en consquence jai mis ces deux notes sous un croissant pour faire connoitre que ces sons ne sont point dtermins. On ne doit pas y faire des tenues surtout dans les Solo, la seule maniere de lemployer nest quen pas-sant. Voyez lExemple cy-aprs....Dans cet Exem-ple comme lut forme un espece de repos, on peut lacher un peu les levres, ce qui le rend moins faux. Il en est de meme de lUt dieze, qui est sur le mme degr.

    Francoeur le Neveu is unusual in suggesting that one can obtain a c#1 on the two keyed oboe; certainly the lowest note on such instruments is too sharp to be an in tune c1, but it is much closer to c1 than c#1. Other texts of the time simply accept that the note c#1 did not exist.

    69. Sothebys (London) auction catalog. Early Musical Instruments. Sale LN7691, Decem-ber 17,1997, lot 96 (illustrated). This oboe was once Michel Piguets and is now the property of Geoffrey Burgess.

    70. Lehrer, Charles-David. An Introduction to the 16 Oboe Concertos of Gustav Vogt and a Discus-sion of the Nineteenth Century Performance Prac-tices Preserved Within Them. Journal of the Inter-national Double Reed Society 16: 19-51, 1988

    71. Sellner, Joseph. Theoretisch praktische Oboe Schule. Sauer & Leidesdorf, Vienna, circa 1825. French translation, circa 1830.

    72. However, an anonymous English horn at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (accession number 1982.110.2) has a c1 correc-tor. The maker is unknown but the instrument is believed to be Italian or German, 1825-1850. I thank Herbert Heyde of the Metropolitan Museum for permitting me to examine this instru-ment.

    73. Bates, Philip. Opus cit, The Oboe. Page 80.


    74. Baines, Anthony. The Oxford Companion to Musical Instruments. Oxford University Press, Oxford. 1992

    75. Montagu, Jeremy. The World of Romantic & Modern Musical Instruments. David & Charles Limited, London 1981

    76. Remnant, Mary. Musical Instruments. An Illustrated History from Antiquity to the Present. Amadeus Press, Portland 1989. Pages 124-125

    77. Hedrick, Peter, opus cit, page 45.

    78. Carse, Adam. The History of Orchestra-tion. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Com-pany, 1925. Reprinted by Dover Publications, New York, 1964. Page 202.

    79. Sothebys (London) auction catalog. Early Musical Instruments. Sale LN8667, Novem-ber 4, 1998. lot 7 (illustrated).

    80. Joppig, opus cit. Page 68, oboe #4.

    81. Storch, Laila. Georges GilletMaster Per-former and Teacher. Journal of the International Double Reed Society 5:1-19, 1977. French resis-tance to the left hand F is puzzling, Storch implies that it was due to Gillets intransigence on the point. The Lore price list of 191324 shows the forked F resonance key as an option, but left hand F is only shown on the Barret model. I own a Lore system 4 oboe (serial G8, 1890) to which a left hand F, opening a new hole, has clearly been added.

    82. Sothebys (London) auction catalog. Early Musical Instruments. Sale L#AN7691, December 17,1997, lot 21 (illustrated). Also seen in Sale LN8667, November 4, 1998, lot 9 (illustrated)

    83. Sothebys (London) auction catalog. Early Musical Instruments. Sale LN7691, Decem-ber 17,1997, lot 104 (illustrated)

    84. Thumb rests do not appear with regular-ity on oboes until the 1840s. Many early clarinets

    (even a few five-key examples) include integral wooden thumb rests, as does the oboe in figure 21. Because museum catalogs rarely show the back of an old oboe or clarinet, information on this topic is difficult to obtain. The Triebert 12 key and the Buffet are my earliest oboes with thumb rests; of course, I cannot be certain if these are original. Mller did not include a thumb rest in his 13-key clarinet (1811) but Baumann used them for his 13-key clarinets (c1825).

    85. Berlioz, Hector - Strauss, Richard. Trea-tise on Instrumentation (1843, second edition1855, revised 1904). Dover Publications, NY 1991 pages 163-164

    86. The original French reads: La candeur, la grce nave, la douce

    joie, ou la douleur dun tre faible, conviennent aux accents du hautbois : il les exprime mer-veille dans le cantabile.

    Un certain degr dagitation lui est encore accessible, mais il faut se garder de le pousser jusquaux cris de la passion, jusqu llan rapide de la colre, de la menace ou de lhrosme, car sa petite voix aigre-douce devient alors impuis-sante et dun grotesque parfait.

    An earlier English translation of this passage, prepared under Berlioz direction, is taken from Berlioz, Hector: A Treatise on Modern Instrumen-tation and Orchestration, dedicated to Frederick William IV, King of Prussia. Novello, London/New York, 1855.

    Candour, artless grace, soft joy, or the grief of a fragile being, suits the hautboys accents; it expresses them admirably in its cantabile. A cer-tain degree of agitation is also within its powers of expression; but care should be taken not to urge it into utterances of passion-the rash out-burst of anger, threat or heroism; for then its small acid-sweet voice becomes ineffectual, and absolutely grotesque.

    87. Vichy (France) Auction Catalog. Instru-ments de Musique Vents et Divers. 13 June 1998. Lot 147, illustrated.

    DR: The Double Reed, Vol. 24 No.1 2001