(Double reed aerophone with keys)
|Developed||about 1720 from the oboe da caccia|
The cor anglais is a transposing instrument pitched in F, a perfect fifth lower than the oboe (a C instrument), and is consequently approximately one and a half times the length of the oboe. The fingering and playing technique used for the cor anglais are essentially the same as those of the oboe, and most oboists double on the cor anglais. Music for the cor anglais is thus written a perfect fifth higher than the instrument actually sounds. Because the cor anglais normally lacks the lowest B♭ key found on most oboes, its sounding range stretches from E3 (written B natural) below middle C to C6 two octaves above middle C.
Description and timbre
Its pear-shaped bell gives it a more covered timbre than the oboe, closer in tonal quality to the oboe d'amore. Whereas the oboe is the soprano instrument of the oboe family, the cor anglais is generally regarded as the tenor member of the family, and the oboe d'amore—pitched between the two in the key of A—as the alto member. The cor anglais is perceived to have a more mellow and plaintive tone than the oboe. Its appearance differs from the oboe in that the reed is attached to a slightly bent metal tube called the bocal, or crook, and the bell has a bulbous shape. It is also much longer.
The cor anglais is usually notated in the treble clef, a perfect fifth higher than sounding. Some composers notated it in the bass clef, when the lower register was persistently used, and historically several other options were employed. Alto clef written at sounding pitch is occasionally used, even by as late a composer as Sergei Prokofiev. In late-18th and early-19th-century Italy, where the instrument was often played by bassoonists instead of oboists, it was notated in the bass clef an octave below sounding pitch (as found in Rossini's Overture to William Tell). French operatic composers up to Fromental Halévy notated the instrument at sounding pitch in the mezzo-soprano clef, which enabled the player to read the part as if it were in the treble clef.
Although the instrument usually descends only to (written) low B♮, continental instruments with an extension to low B♭ (sounding E♭) have existed since early in the 19th century. Examples of works requiring this note (while acknowledging its exceptional nature) include Arnold Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder and Gustav Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. Antonín Dvořák, in his Scherzo Capriccioso, even writes for the cor anglais down to low A, though it seems unlikely that such an extension ever existed.
Reeds used to play the cor anglais are similar to those used for an oboe, consisting of a piece of cane folded in two. While the cane on an oboe reed is mounted on a small metal tube (the staple) partially covered in cork, there is no such cork on a cor anglais reed, which fits directly on the bocal. The cane part of the reed is wider and longer than that of the oboe. Unlike American style oboe reeds, cor anglais reeds typically have wire at the base, approximately 5 millimeters from the top of the string used to attach the cane to the staple. This wire serves to hold the two blades of cane together and stabilize tone and pitch.
Perhaps the best-known makers of modern cors anglais are the French firms of F. Lorée, Marigaux and Rigoutat, the British firm of T. W. Howarth, and the American firm Fox. Instruments from smaller makers, such as A. Laubin, are also sought after. Instruments are usually made from African Blackwood (aka Grenadilla), although some makers offer instruments in a choice of alternative woods as well, such as cocobolo (Howarth) or violet wood (Lorée), which are said to alter the voice of the cor anglais slightly, reputedly making it even more mellow and warmer. Fox has recently made some instruments in plastic resin.
History and etymology
The term cor anglais is French for English horn, but the instrument is neither from England nor related to the various conical-bore brass instruments called "horns", such as the French horn, the natural horn, the post horn, or the alto horn. The instrument originated in Silesia about 1720, when a bulb bell was fitted to a curved oboe da caccia-type body by the Weigel family of Breslau. The two-keyed, open-belled, straight tenor oboe (French taille de hautbois, "tenor oboe"), and more particularly the flare-belled oboe da caccia, resembled the horns played by angels in religious images of the Middle Ages. This gave rise in German-speaking central Europe to the Middle High German name engellisches Horn, meaning angelic horn. Because engellisch also meant English in the vernacular of the time, the "angelic horn" became the "English horn." In the absence of any better alternative, the curved, bulb-belled tenor oboe then retained the name even after the oboe da caccia fell into disuse around 1760. The name first appeared on a regular basis in Italian, German, and Austrian scores from 1741 on, usually in the Italian form corno inglese.
The earliest known orchestral part specifically for the instrument is in the Vienna version of Niccolò Jommelli's opera Ezio dating from 1749, where it was given the Italian name corno inglese. Gluck and Haydn followed suit in the 1750s, and the first English horn concertos were written in the 1770s. Considering the name "cor anglais," it is ironic that the instrument was not used in France until about 1800 or in England until the 1830s. The OED lists the first mention of the instrument in the English language in a 1775 musical travelogue ("...I plainly distinguished..the English horn") and in the Penny Cyclopedia in 1838 ("The English Horn, or Corno Inglese, is a deeper-toned oboe..."), while the first identified printed use of the term cor anglais in English was in 1870. In the UK the instrument is colloquially generally referred to as the "cor". The local equivalent for "English horn" is used in most other European languages, while a few languages use their equivalent of "alto oboe".
As the cor anglais has a bent metal pipe (the bocal) that connects the reed to the instrument proper, the suggestion has been made that anglais might be a corruption of Middle French anglé (angular, or bent at an angle, angulaire in modern French), but this has been rejected on grounds that there is no evidence of the term cor anglé before it was offered as a possible origin of anglais in the 19th century.
Concertos and concertante
- William Alwyn's Autumn Legend for English horn and string orchestra (1954)
- Emmanuel Chabrier's Lamento for English horn and orchestra (1875)
- Aaron Copland's Quiet City for trumpet, English horn, and string orchestra (1940) †
- Gaetano Donizetti's Concertino in G major (1816)
- Arthur Honegger's Concerto da camera for flute, English horn and string orchestra (1948)
- Gordon Jacob's Rhapsody for English Horn and Strings (1948)
- Aaron Jay Kernis' Colored Field (1994)
- James MacMillan's The World's Ransoming, for obbligato English horn and orchestra (1995–96), part of the orchestral tryptich Triduum (1995–97) †
- Walter Piston's Fantasy for English horn, harp and string orchestra (1952)
- Ned Rorem's Concerto for English Horn and Orchestra (1992)
- Jean Sibelius' The Swan of Tuonela (1893) †
- Jack Stamp's Elegy for English horn and Band (2004)
- Pēteris Vasks' Concerto for English horn and orchestra (1989)
- Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari's Concertino in A♭, op. 34 (1947)
† Though concertante in nature, these are just orchestral works featuring extensive solos, with the player seated within the orchestra
Better known chamber music for English horn includes:
- Ludwig van Beethoven's Trio for 2 oboes and English horn, Op. 87 (1795)
- Ludwig van Beethoven's Variations on "Là ci darem la mano", for 2 oboes and English horn, WoO 28 (1796)
- Elliott Carter's Pastoral for English horn (or viola, clarinet or saxophone) and piano (1940)
- Felix Draeseke's Little Suite for English horn and piano, Op. 87 (1911)
- Paul Hindemith's Sonata for English Horn and Piano (1941)
- Charles Koechlin's Monody for English Horn, Op. 216, Nr. 11 (1947–1948)
- Vincent Persichetti's Parable XV for Solo English Horn
- Karlheinz Stockhausen's Zeitmaße for flute, oboe, clarinet, English horn and bassoon (1955–56)
- Igor Stravinsky's Pastorale for soprano and piano (1907), in the composer's own arrangements for soprano, oboe, English horn, clarinet, and bassoon (1923), and violin, oboe, English horn, clarinet, and bassoon (1933)
- Augusta Read Thomas's Pilgrim Soul for cor anglais and two violins (2011)
- Heitor Villa-Lobos' Quinteto em forma de chôros for flute, oboe, clarinet, English horn and bassoon (1929)
- Carlo Yvon's Sonata in F minor for English Horn (or Viola) and Piano (published ca. 1831), one of the few sonatas written during the Romantic era for this combination.
Solos in orchestral works
- Vincenzo Bellini's Il Pirata (Act II: Introduzione) (1827)
- Hector Berlioz's Harold in Italy (1834)
- Hector Berlioz's Rob Roy Overture (1826)
- Hector Berlioz's Roman Carnival Overture (1844)
- Hector Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique (third movement) (1830)
- Alexander Borodin's In the Steppes of Central Asia (1880)
- Alexander Borodin's Polovetsian Dances from "Prince Igor" (1890)
- Claude Debussy's Nocturnes (1899) ("Nuages")
- Antonín Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 (1893), From the New World (Largo)
- César Franck's Symphony in D minor (1888) (2nd movement)
- George Gershwin's Concerto in F (1925) (1st movement)
- Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 22, "The Philosopher" (1764) (two English horns)
- Joseph Haydn's Divertimento in F, for two violins, two English horns, two horns & two bassoons Hob. II: 6 (1760)
- Joseph Haydn's Divertimento in E♭, for flute, two English horns, bassoon, two horns, two violins & bass Hob. II: 24 (Fragment, ca. 1761)
- Vincent d'Indy's Symphony on a French Mountain Air (1886)
- Zoltán Kodály's Summer Evening (1906)
- Gustav Mahler's Wenn dein Mütterlein from Kindertotenlieder (1905)
- Olivier Messiaen's L'ascension (1932–33) (2nd movement)
- Thea Musgrave's Phoenix Rising (1997)
- Basil Poledouris' Conan the Barbarian score – "Riddle of Steel" (1982)
- Gaetano Pugnani's Werther Melodrama in Two Parts, (Part II No. 21 Largo assai) (1790)
- Sergei Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances (1940)
- Sergei Rachmaninoff's The Bells (1913) (4th movement)
- Maurice Ravel's Piano Concerto in G (1931) (2nd movement)
- Maurice Ravel's Ballet Daphnis et Chloé (1912)
- Maurice Ravel's Rapsodie espagnole (1908)
- Alfred Reed's Russian Christmas Music (1944)
- Ottorino Respighi's Lauda per la Natività del Signore (1930)
- Ottorino Respighi's Pini di Roma (1924)
- Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol (1887) (2nd movement)
- Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade Op. 35 (1888)
- Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez (1939) (2nd movement)
- Gioachino Rossini's William Tell Overture (1829)
- Howard Shore's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy (film score)
- Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 8 in C minor (1943) (1st movement)
- Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10 in E minor (1953) (3rd movement)
- Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 11 in G minor (1957) (4th movement)
- Jean Sibelius' Karelia Suite (1893) and Pelléas et Mélisande (1905)
- Robert W. Smith's Symphony No. 2 "The Odyssey" (3rd movement,"The Isle of Calypso")
- Richard Strauss' Ein Heldenleben (1898)
- Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring (1913) Mainly in the Intro to Part I and the next-to-last dance in Part II, Ritual Action of the Ancestors
- Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture (1870) (Love Theme, Exposition)
- Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker (1892)
- Ralph Vaughan Williams's In the Fen Country (1904)
- Ralph Vaughan Williams's Symphony No. 2 A London Symphony (2nd movement)
- Ralph Vaughan Williams's Symphony No. 5 in D Major (1943) (3rd movement)
- Ralph Vaughan Williams's Symphony No. 6 in E Minor (1946–7) (2nd movement)
- Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde (1859) (Act 3, Scene 1)
- John Williams' Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film) (film score) (2001)
- John Williams' Schindler's List (film score) (1993)
Use outside classical music
Though primarily featured in classical music, the cor anglais has also been used by a few musicians as a jazz instrument; most prominent among these are Paul McCandless, Jean-Luc Fillon, Sonny Simmons, and Vinny Golia (see also Oboists performing primarily outside classical genres). From the mid-1930s, Mitch Miller played the instrument in popular radio orchestras and made a number of recordings with the instrument, notably solos on the albums Music Until Midnight (1954) and It's So Peaceful In The Country (1956) with Percy Faith. Multi-instrumentalist Bill Page performed on the instrument with the Lawrence Welk band from 1951 until 1965. The cor anglais figures in the instrumental arrangements of several Carpenters songs. It has made some appearances in pop music, such as in Dream Academy's "Life in a Northern Town", King Crimson's Dawn Song on their album Lizard, Lindisfarne's Run For Home, Randy Crawford's One Day I'll Fly Away, Tanita Tikaram's Twist in My Sobriety, Marianne Faithfull's As Tears Go By, and many (e.g., Judy Collins' and Barbra Streisand's) versions of Send in the Clowns. The cor anglais is also featured in the Lionel Richie and Diana Ross version of Endless Love, and in Elton John's Can You Feel the Love Tonight and Candle in the Wind 1997. The song A Mutual Friend by the band Wire from the album 154 uses a cor anglais. A cor anglais carries the opening of Fiddler on the Roof's "Sabbath Prayer".
In Britain, Tony Hatch's theme tune to the long-running soap opera Emmerdale Farm was originally performed on the cor anglais, as was also the version of Harry South's theme tune played at the end of each episode of The Sweeney. The instrument also features prominently in the theme music to the ITV productions of Brideshead Revisited and The Chief.
Paul McCartney holds a cor anglais on the album cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The instrument also features in the 2005 film American Pie Presents: Band Camp (referred to as an oboe). Kate St John of Dream Academy plays the cor anglais.
- Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary, cor anglais, Cambridge University Press, 2011, p. 110
- Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, 3rd edition, Pearson Education Limited, 2008, p.185
- cor anglais in the Oxford English Dictionary
- Norman Del Mar, Anatomy of the Orchestra (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981): 143. ISBN 0520045009 (cloth); ISBN 0520050622.
- William Alexander Barrett, An Introduction to Form and Instrumentation for the Use of Beginners in Composition (London, Oxford, and Cambridge: Rivingtons, 1879): 55.
- Hector Berlioz, Berlioz's Orchestration Treatise: A Translation and Commentary, translated from the French by Hugh Macdonald (Cambridge Musical Texts and Monographs. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002): 108. ISBN 0521239532.
- Norman Del Mar, Anatomy of the Orchestra (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981): 158–59. ISBN 0520045009 (cloth); ISBN 0520050622.
- Michael Finkelman, "Oboe: III. Larger and Smaller European Oboes, 4. Tenor Oboes, (iv) English Horn", The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell (London: Macmillan Publishers, 2001); also at Grove Music Online (Subscription access).
- Willi Apel, "English Horn", The Harvard Dictionary of Music, second edition (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969). ISBN 0674375017.
- History of the English horn/cor anglais at the Vienna Symphonic Library
- Adam Carse, Musical Wind Instruments: A History of the Wind Instruments Used in European Orchestras and Wind-Bands from the Later Middle Ages Up to the Present Time (London: Macmillan and Co., 1939): 144.
- Michael Finkelman, "Die Oboeinstrumente in tieferer Stimmlage – Teil 5: Das Englischhorn in der Klassik", in Tibia 99 (1999): 618–24. (German)
- English Horn at www.oed.com
- Michael Kennedy, "Cor anglais", The Oxford Dictionary of Music, second edition, revised, Joyce Bourne, associate editor (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2006); A. J. Greimas, Dictionnaire de l'ancien français jusqu'au milieu du XIV siècle, second edition (Paris: Librarie Larousse, 1968): 31. OCLC 802019668
- Adam Carse, Musical Wind Instruments: A History of the Wind Instruments Used in European Orchestras and Wind-Bands from the Later Middle Ages Up to the Present Time (London: Macmillan and Co., 1939): 143; Sybil Marcuse, "Cor anglais", in Musical Instruments: A Comprehensive Dictionary, revised edition, The Norton Library (New York: W. W. Norton, 1975). ISBN 0-393-00758-8.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Cor anglais.|