Music Appreciation – The Oboe

The Oboe has a sound that is clear and penetrating. Its name comes from the French word hautboisoboe which means ‘high wood’. An oboe player may be referred to as an oboist. You might even think it sounds a little like a duck! Prokofiev thought so when he wrote his celebrated masterpiece Peter and the Wolf where he used the oboe to represent the duck.

The baroque oboe first appeared in France in the 17th century. It was usually made of boxwood and had only three keys: a “great” key and two side keys. In the classical era that followed, the oboe continued to develop, adding several new keys including a key similar to the modern octave key referred to then as a “slur key”. In the 19th century, instrument builders continued to increase the complexity of the keywork of the oboe, drawing ideas from the Boehm flute. The modern symphonic oboe, with the “full conservatory” key system, has a whopping 45 pieces of keywork!

Famous oboist playing the oboe as primary instrument:

Kyle Bruckmann (born 1971), American – free improvisation
Lindsay Cooper (born 1951), English – art rock – Lovers
Jean-Luc Fillon, French – jazz
Karl Jenkins (born 1944), Welsh * – jazz – Palladio/Allegrett
Mick Karn (1958–2011), British – rock – Great Day in the Morning
Paul McCandless (born 1947), American * – jazz
Nancy Rumbel, American – new age
Sonny Simmons (born 1933), American – jazz
Frank Socolow (1923–1981), American – jazz
Kate St John (born 1957), English – art rock, pop
Russel Walder (born 1959), American – new age

Famous songs featuring the Oboe:
Prokofiev- Peter and the Wolf – The Duck Dialogue with the Bird
Ralph Vaughan-Williams – Oboe Concerto
Bach – Oboe Concerto
Jan Dismas Zelenka – Trio Sonata for 2 Oboes, Bassoon and Basso No. 5 in F
Richard Strauss – Concerto for Oboe and Small Orchestra in D major
Vincent D’Indy – Fantasy on French folk tunes for orchestra and solo oboe, Op. 31
Georg Philipp Telemann – Vivace
Benedetto Marcello – Oboe Concerto in C minor
Bohuslav Martinu – Concerto for Oboe and Small Orchestra
Francis Poulenc – Sextour for Piano, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn and Piano
Srul Irving Glick – Sonata for Oboe and Piano (1987)


2 thoughts on “Music Appreciation – The Oboe

  1. says:

    Brenda, I’ve always loved the oboe – such an expressive instrument. I used to play the bassoon and English horn – a couple more double reeds – and thoroughly enjoyed them! 🙂 Thanks for the great info. ~Terri

    • brendamueller says:

      That is so cool! I’m glad you liked the blog. The bassoon and the oboe are the two reed instruments I haven’t tried. After hearing some of the selections I have on the page, I’m thinking about giving them a try.

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