The English Horn

Listen to Harris Orem, English Horn (retired) perform an excerpt from Franck, Symphony in D minor. Choose one:
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The english horn is the only one of a variety of instruments in the oboe family, outside of the oboe itself, to become a standard orchestral instrument. Its parent instrument, the oboe da caccia, is a tenor oboe with a large open bell, used in the mid-18th century in formal music associated with the hunt. Some versions of this instrument had an angled design, allowing the player easier access to the holes at the end of the instrument. “English horn” is a mistranslation of the French “cor anglais” (meaning “angled horn”).

As with the oboe, the reed is crucial to sound production. It is made of carved cane bound face to face to a narrow metal tube (a “staple”), and must have a very specific suppleness to vibrate properly. An english horn player will typically spend hours each day making and refining his or her hand-made reeds. Condensation in the instrument accumulates quickly while it is played, and must be swabbed out frequently.


Source: The Norton/Grove Concise Encyclopedia of Music, edited by Stanley Sadie. London: Macmillan Press Ltd., [1991] ISBN 0-333-43236-3

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