25 Sep 2013

Salome's Orchestra

Piccolo. 3 Flutes. 2 Oboes. English Horn. Heckelphone*. 2 Clarinets in A. 2 Clarinets in Bb. Bass-clarinet in Bb. 3 Bassoons. Contrabassoon.
6 French Horns. 4 Trumpets. 4 Trombones. Bass Tuba.
4 Kettledrums. 1 small kettledrum.
Percussion (6-7 players): Gong; Cymbals; Bass Drum; Snare Drum; Tambourine; Triangle; Xylophone; Castanets; Glockenspiel.
2 Harps.
Harmonium. (Off-stage)
Organ. (Off-stage)
16 First Violins. 16 Second Violins. 10-12 Violas. 10 Cellos. 8 Double Basses.
heckelphone*The Heckelphone was not invented to interrupt political speeches, though you could well be forgiven for hoping it had been! With late-nineteenth-century orchestras constantly increasing the numbers of instruments, a need was felt for something to bridge the sonic gap between soprano-ish Oboes/English Horn and the bass-ish Bassoons: a sort of “baritone” oboe. One Wilhelm Heckel and his sons developed a heavy, 4-foot-long instrument, which sounds an octave lower than the oboe. It was introduced in 1904, and made its orchestral debut in Salome; Strauss also used it in Elektra and An Alpine Symphony. In 1889 a Frenchman, François Lorée had produced his hautbois baryton (“baritone oboe”). The year the Heckelphone (why does it sound like a Dr. Seuss character?) was introduced, Strauss published his revision of Hector Berlioz’s Grand Traité d’instrumentation et d’orchestration modernes (“Grand Treatise on Modern Instrumentation and Orchestration”) and included both French and German varieties. Various British composers – Vaughan-Williams; Delius; Holst; Arnold Bax – included the instrument in some of their scores, though it’s not clear which nationality they favored!