Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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James Anderson, OAE musician, tells us a bit about his Cimbasso which he’ll be playing at our Glyndebourne performances of Falstaff  this summer…

My Cimbasso was made for me by Heinrich Thein, and instrument maker in Bremen. The bore (tubing size), is a copy of the instrument used at La Scala in Milan and is quite narrow, giving it the ability to make an edgier sound at a lower dynamic. This makes it more suitable to play with the narrow bore trombones of Verdi’s time: he often scored his parts for valve trombones, which also have a narrow bore.

Most of the modern Cimbassi are made by tuba manufacturers and as they use tuba tubing, which has a much wider bore, their fatter sound is often like a tuba. Verdi insisted that nearly all of his opera parts were  played on the Cimbasso. In a letter to Ricordi, his publisher, he said he wanted the fourth trombone part to be played on a Cimbasso and if that were not possible, then on a large trombone, but definitely NOT on a tuba!

One Comment

  • you are right, Tuba and Verdi: never ever! The basslines in Verdis Operas must sound like a deep trombone, so we are lucky to use the cimbasso for this purposes.

    Matthias Wilhelm Sat Oct 19 2013