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Re thinking the Oboe

For three years an exciting and painstaking process of instrumental design and development has unfolded at the Royal Academy of Music. Players, composers and makers have spurred each other on to ever more imaginative efforts. The result is an oboe that reaches an incredible high C with comparative ease, with increased ability to play several notes at one time, and more playable fingerings for complex contemporary music including new microtonal options. All of these improvements have been implemented without compromising the instrument’s distinctive character and tone colour, creating an oboe for the 21st century.

This exhibition takes a long view at the creative process of instrument development, tracing the oboe’s history from origins to its present reincarnation. The displays juxtapose early original instruments alongside ground-breaking new ideas. Learn about the arrival of the ‘hautboy’ in England around 1700 and see a beautiful Baroque oboe by London maker Thomas Stanesby. Follow various changes in both the instrument’s physical form and the technique used to play it over the following centuries, and see French instruments owned by the Italian virtuoso Antonino Pasculli.


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