The cornet was built in France in 1828 by Jean Louis Antoine Halary. It differs from the trumpet by having a round compact shape, a conical bore and a deep funnel-shaped mouthpiece. Usually cornets are tuned to B, sometimes also to C. They were mainly played in French, Italian, English and American military bands. In the decades after 1840 cornets were also extremely popular in the salon music and as solo instruments. Due to their mellower tone quality and the more comfortable way to play them, cornets enjoyed increasing popularity in the symphony orchestras and replaced the trumpet almost entirely in the second half of the 19th century. We use two original instruments from around 1830 and 1850.
Made out of animal horns and shells, the horn was already used as outdoor signal instrument for hunting in ancient times. The 19th century, though, brought significant changes: in 1814 Heinrich Stölzel and Friedrich Blühmel invented the first valves, and thus the natural horn was transformed into an instrument on which chromatic scales could be played, and which had gained a regular footing in almost all orchestras around 1850. At first the horns were commonly pitched in F. But soon shorter horns in B were designed and played as they proved easier for use in the highest range. Eduard Kruspe and Bartholomäus Geisig produced a prototype of the "double horn" in 1897, which combines the original horn in F, and the higher horn keyed in B into a single frame. This instrument has been played since then. In our Ensemble we use a F-Horn with 3,70 m tube length. It has a very captivating sound due to its rich variety of overtones.
Although the trombone is already mentioned in the Bible (as jobel, schofar or keren), its current shape - probably originating in Italy or Flanders - appears in images and pictures from around 1460. The slide is in its function equivalent to the valves. It dates back to the 15th century, and thus makes the trombone the oldest brass instrument with a chromatic pitch range. Today various tube lengths - the alto, tenor and bass trombone - are played. Yet, the most important development in the 19th century was, that – at first in France and then from around 1810 in Austria – only one version of the instrument, the tenor trombone in B, was used, because it was the one with the widest range and could therefore be most easily applied to play any of the three trombone parts. We use a narrow bore tenor trombone, which perfectly suits the transparent sound.
The ophicleide is the bass instrument of the keyed bugle family. Its name is an invented word which comes from the Greek terms for “serpent” (ophios) and „key“ (kleidos), and thus means "a serpent with keys". The ophicleide was invented in Paris in 1817 by Jean Louis Antoine Halary, who was also the inventor of the cornet. It has nine or twelve brass keys with pads made of goatskin and filled with swan downs or wool. The keys are used, as in woodwind instruments, to change the tube length and consequently the pitch. Between 1820 and 1880 the ophicleide played the bass part in military bands and in the brass section of the orchestras. It was however, after the invention of the tuba in 1835, more and more replaced by the latter, since compared to the tuba it has a much narrower sound range. This was disadvantageous particularly when it came to open air concerts. The ophicleide captivates with a sound that is slender but powerful compared to the tuba and that offers a fantastic mixing behaviour with other instruments.