Favorite Instrument on the Web: Oboe

History and Manufactures

Andraud, A. J. (1967). Vade-mecum of the oboist: 230 selected technical and orchestral studies for oboe and English horn (Sheet music). 7th Ed. Cincinnati, OH: Wind Instrument Music Library.

Oboe, popularly known as hautbois in French and oboe in German, is a musical instrument made of stooping reeds of woodwind which are made wound twice. Oboe produces sound when it is blown through a wind resonating holes. The first oboe was made in the 17th century. The idea for its formation was generated from shawm. The specific date for the first oboe is not known and most people think it mysteriously occurred. Its origin is, however, attributed to the Filidor and Hotteterre families. Today, oboes can be manufactured from wood or synthetic materials. Oboe is basically woodwork with three keys used to select notes with levers opening a hole on the woodwork. For producing melodies pertaining to the distinct harmony of the oboe, the musician has to blow the woodwind instrument hard a higher pitch than usual. The ancient oboe manufacturers in Germany were Denner, Eichentopf, and an English man called Thomas Stanesby and his son Thomas Junior. Manufacturing of the oboe has evolved in the Classical period to the present versions, that is, from C4-D6 oboes to C4-F6 ones. The present oboes include the Viennese or Wiener oboe and the Conservatoire oboe. However, there are several musical instruments that play based on the techniques of the oboe. For instance, cor anglais, tenor, piston oboe, piffero and xirimia are some of the oboes in various parts of the world.

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Burgess, G. & Haynes, B. (2004). The oboe. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

The oboes are manufactured from different reeds depending on the music requirements. For example, oboists can use fibrecane, cane or medium soft reeds, which are produced from the Arundo Donax. These reeds are curved to suit an oboist’s needs using gougers, guillotines and sharp blades. Currently, this art is learnt in the specialized institutions. Oboe is used in folk music, jazz, film music, rock and pop. Some of the oboe manufacturing firms include: Barrington Instruments Inc. in the US, Patricola in Italy, Louis in the UK, Yamaha in Japan, and Heckel in Germany amongst other companies all over the world.

Famous Performers

Eder, B. (n.d.) Artists. Mitch Miller. Biography. Billboard.

Mitchell William Miller, born in July 1911, was an American oboist living in New York. He got interested in oboe in his teens due to the presence of orchestra in his educational institution. In his mid-teens he was already able to play in Syracuse Symphony Orchestra and later joined Eastman School of Music for post-secondary education. After the graduation, Miller joined Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, where together with his friends recorded “The Music of Alec Wilder.” Mitchell was famously known as an Artists and Repertoire man in the 1940s where he also played classical music. “Sing along with Mitch” is the first recognized example of his personal work. He got sick and died in July 2010. I chose Mitchell due to his contribution in music as well as the transformation of the Colombian music style as an oboist performer.

Music & Vision. (n.d.). Jennifer Irene Paull. Retrieved from http://www.mvdaily.com/articles/p/j/jennifer-i-paull.htm

Jennifer Paull is an English oboe soloist born in November 1944 in Liverpool. During her study in Royal College of Music, she decided to revive the oboe, which was a neglected musical instrument in her educational institution. After several commitments and support from various composers, she was recognized as a knowledgeable professional in oboe by BBC Northern Orchestra where she did recordings of two songs and later settled as a soloist. She has worked as a manager in several oboe music organizations and in 1995 recorded one of her most popular pieces on oboe d’amore and many other wonderful works. In 2009 she donated her whole repertoire to Werner Icking Music Archive. Jennifer is one of the oboist performers who brought oboe back to life in Royal College of Music and later in the whole music society of her country. Her contribution is highly recognized in the oboe musical world.   

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Famous Composers

Cooper, J. M. (2003) Mendelssohn’s “Italian” symphony. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Felix Mendelssohn is a German oboe composer born 1809. Already in his tender age he was identified as a talented musician but this was not approved by his parents and they did not allow him develop his talent in the music world. Felix Mendelssohn was an oboist in three dimensions. That is, as a soloist, a composer and the renowned conductor. Forunately, he did not limit himself to oboe only and became one of the greatest composers of the all times and his works have always been greatly recognized in the musical world.

Earbox. (2016). John Adams. Biography.

John Adams is a unique composer, conductor and performer in the American music.  His works represent some of the greatest contemporary classical compositions for their depth, refinement of sound, and the humanist character. Over the past 25 years, Adams’s music has played a significant part in influencing contemporary musical tastes. Having learnt to play clarinet from his father, he brought the value of woodwind instruments, the oboe in particular, on a qualitatively new level.

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New World Encyclopedia. (2015). Classical works featuring the oboe. Retrieved from http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Oboe

International Music Score Library Project. (n.d.). List of compositions featuring the oboe.

The most famous music pieces performed with the oboe include:

  • “New World Symphony,” composed by Antonin Dvorak
  • “Peter and the Wolf,” composed by Sergei Prokofiev.
  • “Le Tombeau de Couperin,” composed by Maurice Ravel.
  • “Don Juan Overture,” composed by Richard Strauss.
  • “Swan Lake,” composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
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Oboe Solos As a Part of Orchestral Repertoire

Virginia Symphony Orchestra.(n.d.) 2016 – 2017 Classics Series.

Virginia Symphony Orchestra is one of the orchestras in the United States which can be proud of having this wonderful musical instrument in their repertoire. Besides, it is lucky to employ three world-class oboists: Sherie Lake Aguirre, Virginia Symphony League Principal Oboe Chair, George Corbett, and David Garcia. The Orchestra features oboe solos when playing such world famous masterpieces as The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, Oboe Concerti and Sonatas by George Frideric Handel, Oboe Concerto by Richard Strauss, and Pastoral by Igor Stravinsky.

American Symphony Orchestra. (n.d.). Oboe in repertoire.

The American Symphony Orchestra was established in 1962 by Leopold Stokowski and now employs 74 high-class musicians. Such world-renowned soloists as Yo-Yo Ma, Deborah Voigt, and Sarah Chang have performed with the ASO. Oboe is played by two artists in the orchestra: Alexandra Knoll, the principal oboist, and Melanie Field, who is also the English Hornist. You can enjoy the melodious sounds of the oboe performed by the American Symphony Orchestra in such masterpieces as Friedenstag, by Richard Straus, Der Diktator, by Ernst Krenek, Overture to Claudine von Villa Bella, by Franz Schubert and many others.

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