Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/501

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OBOE D'AMORE.
489
OBRECHT.

it is intermediate between the first and the Corno Inglese. It is chiefly in the scores of Bach that this instrument is met with, most of his works containing important parts for it. As a good instance may be cited the air No. 4 in the first part of the Christmas oratorio—'Bereite dich Zion.'

It has been common of late to replace this fine but almost obsolete instrument by the ordinary oboe. Occasionally, however, as in No. 7 of the work above named, the two are written for together, and the extreme note A is required, two lines below the treble stave, which is below the compass of the ordinary oboe.

The instrument has lately been reconstructed by Mons. Mahillon, of Brussels, according to the designs of Mons. Gevaert, the learned director of the Conservatoire of Music in that capital, for the special purpose of playing Bach's scores correctly. It was thus used in Westminster Abbey on Jan. 15, 1880.

[ W. H. S. ]

OBOE DI CACCIA, i.e. hunting oboe (Fagottino; Tenoroon). An old name for an instrument of the Oboe or Bassoon family standing in the F or E♭ between those respectively in use. It occurs frequently in the scores of Bach, who assigns prominent solo and concerted parts to it. There is also a double part for instruments of this nature in Purcell's 'Dioclesian'; and two important movements, the 'O quam tristis' and the 'Virgo virginum praeclara' in Haydn's Stabat mater are scored for two oboi di caccia obbligati. As specimens of Bach's treatment of the instrument may be named the Pastoral Symphony and other movements of the Christmas Oratorio, scored for two, and a beautiful Aria in the Johannes Passion for the singular quartet of flute, soprano, oboe di caccia, and basso continuo, preceded by an Arioso for tenor, with 2 flutes, 2 oboi di caccia, and quartet of strings. It is much to be regretted that this magnificent instrument has almost entirely gone out of use, and is confounded by recent writers with the very different Corno Inglese. For whereas the latter is essentially an oboe lowered through a fifth, the real oboe di caccia is a bassoon raised a fourth. It therefore carries upwards the bass tone of the latter, rather than depresses the essentially treble quality of the oboe. It is obvious from Bach's practice that he looks on it as a tenor and not as an alto voice. In his older scores the part is headed Taille de Basson, Taille being the usual name for the Tenor Voice or Violin. In the older scores of Haydn's Stabat the parts are actually, and as a recent writer[1] says 'curiously enough,' marked 'Fagotti in E♭,' that being the older name by which it was designated. Even as late as the time of Rossini the instrument was known, and to it is given the beautiful Ranz des Vaches, imitating very exactly the Alpenhorn, in the Overture to Guillaume Tell. This is scored in the F or bass clef, as is also remarked by the writer above referred to,[2] who singularly concludes that the notation is 'an octave lower than the real sounds produced.' The fact is that when the opera was first heard in this country, the passage was actually played as written on the oboe di caccia by a gentleman still living, namely Signor Tamplini. There can be little doubt that Beethoven's Trio for two oboes and cor anglais (op. 87) was really intended for this instrument, since it takes the fundamental bass part throughout.

In construction, scale, and compass the oboi di caccia in F and E♭ exactly resemble bassoons on a miniature scale. They are played with a small bassoon reed. The writer is fortunate enough to possess two fine specimens in F by the great maker Savary, and one in E♭ by Marzoli. The former he has twice played in Bach's Christmas Oratorio in Westminster Abbey, and also at the Hereford Festival of 1879.

[ W. H. S. ]

OBRECHT, Jacob, sometimes given Hobrecht, one of the great masters of the 15th century, born probably about the year 1440. In early life he was chapel-master at Utrecht, and Erasmus[3] learnt music from him, as a choir-boy in the cathedral, about the year 1474. He was also living some time in Florence, where Aaron met him in company with Josquin, Isaac, and Agricola, at the court of Lorenzo il Magnifico.

In 1491 Obrecht was elected chapel-master in Antwerp cathedral, already a great musical centre, with a fine choir of nearly 70 voices, exclusive of boys. Of the higher honours and emoluments he received there, of the visits paid him by foreign musicians, of his work in the revision of the cathedral music-books, and lastly of his poor health, M. Leon de Burbure has found ample evidence in the records of that church.[4]

Many of his works are preserved, and 8 masses were printed, the merits of which are fully discussed by Ambros.[5] The finest of these, 'Fortuna desperata,' has been published in modern notation (Amsterdam, 1870). The first volume of printed music in 1501 contained two secular pieces, and Petrucci included many more in his collection of the next few years. Eitner gives titles of about 30 printed chansons and motets still existing. Dr. Burney has scored some movements from the mass 'Si dedero,' in his note-books, and Forkel has given two examples in his history.

Baini speaks of MS. works in the Papal Chapel, and there is reason to think that among them is the mass written for the Bruges choir. This mass was so appreciated that the singers came to Antwerp in a body to thank the great master. Surely, to provoke such enthusiasm, there must be some power which we can hardly appreciate, hidden behind that 'clean and clear counterpoint' which Dr. Burney so coldly admires. To the mind of Erasmus, Obrecht ever remained 'nulli secundus.' He was greatly struck, as amateurs are to this day, by the wonderful rapidity with

  1. Mr. E. Prout. 'On the growth of the Modern Orchestra,' a paper read before the Musical Association, Jan. 6, 1879.
  2. 'Instrumentation,' In Novello and Co.'s Music Primers.
  3. Glarean, who was a pupil of Erasmus, mentions this in the 'Dodecachordon.'
  4. See article 'Obrecht' in Fétis's Biographie.
  5. Geschichte der Musik, iii. 180.