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Author Topic: English Horn vs. Oboe  (Read 4781 times)
un_etudiant
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« on: March 16, 2010, 03:17:04 PM »

Dear all:

I apologize for my ignorance, but humbly ask:  What is the difference in timbre between an oboe and an english horn?  I am often not sure whether I am hearing one or the other.  Perhaps some examples of pieces scored with each?

Thank you,
John
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birba
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« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2010, 06:04:02 PM »

Go to youtube and type in english horn solo and then click on the Tristan and Isolde.  You'll hear the famous solo in the last act.
Then type in oboe solo and listen to the tchaikowsky solo.
The english horn has a bigger sound and is very melancholic, to me.
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Bob
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« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2010, 06:13:52 PM »

English horn is more exotic.  Stranger. 
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Beethoven Variations – New Urtext and Recordings

Variation form was a central feature of Beethoven’s piano writing in general, from his early years until the end of his life. 32 Variations in C-minor as well as the Six Variations in G-major, both based on Beethoven’s original themes, are now available in new Urtext sheet music and recordings. Read more >>

retrouvailles
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« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2010, 09:45:14 PM »

The english horn has a bit of a more nasal sound to it, and it has a mellower sound. The oboe sounds a bit more shrill.
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richard black
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« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2010, 10:51:06 PM »

'English Horn' is a fifth lower than oboe, so it's about 50% longer. It also has a bend near the top, and the bottom looks as if it is about to lay an egg. It is effectively an alto oboe. It's a transposing instrument, sounding a fifth lower than printed (so the fingering is the same as the oboe).

However the American name for it is based on a misunderstanding. The French name (also used in the UK) is 'Cor Anglais' - apparently 'English Horn'. In fact the French word was spelled wrong centuries ago and it should be 'Cor Anglé' - 'bent horn'. There is nothing English about it anyway. Players in the UK invariably refer to it simply as 'cor'.
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Instrumentalists are all wannabe singers. Discuss.
ahinton
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« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2010, 11:46:13 PM »

'English Horn' is a fifth lower than oboe, so it's about 50% longer. It also has a bend near the top, and the bottom looks as if it is about to lay an egg. It is effectively an alto oboe. It's a transposing instrument, sounding a fifth lower than printed (so the fingering is the same as the oboe).

However the American name for it is based on a misunderstanding. The French name (also used in the UK) is 'Cor Anglais' - apparently 'English Horn'. In fact the French word was spelled wrong centuries ago and it should be 'Cor Anglé' - 'bent horn'. There is nothing English about it anyway. Players in the UK invariably refer to it simply as 'cor'.
Ah - sense at last! Yes, it ain't a horn, it is bent but it ain't English either. Some wonderful solos have been written for it, not least that in Tristan und Isolde that almost amounts to a concerto for it. Elliott Carter (who used to play the oboe some 80+ years ago) actually did write a concerto for it a little over 70 years ago but he may not have completed it and, sadly, there seems to be no surviving evidence nowadays of what he wrote. Elisabeth Lutyens's famous barb about "English pastoral" music included some remark about soulful melodies played on the cor anglé, yet the instrument is also well capable of powerful and sometimes almost raucous sounds. There is a wonderful solo for it towards the close of the first movement of Shostakovich's Fourth Symphony (one of his finest worls, I think) which takes it into its upper regions and explores the plangency of which it is so eminently capable.

Best,

Alistair
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retrouvailles
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« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2010, 11:53:19 PM »

There are actually a few concertos for the english horn which have actually been completed and performed, notably James MacMillan's "The World's Ransoming" and Pēteris Vasks' Concerto. Here is a rather extensive list:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_horn_concerto
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The Great Arthur Rubinstein Revisited

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richard black
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« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2010, 09:30:32 AM »

The Cor Anglais also makes a major contribution to arguably Peter Warlock's finest work, 'The Curlew', a song cycle for tenor and chamber ensemble.
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Instrumentalists are all wannabe singers. Discuss.
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